First call: JuJu Smith-Schuster’s catchy quote about the Steelers; Diontae Johnson says 2022 is a ‘year of rebuilding’

We have some very revealing quotes about the Pittsburgh Steelers from JuJu Smith-Schuster, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Diontae Johnson.

In addition, a former football coach for the Pitt Panthers was fired.

All that in the “First Call” on Monday.

So what are you trying to say, JuJu?

Melissa Stark of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” had a provocative quote from former Steeler JuJu Smith-Schuster during her team’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

During a conversation with Stark, he reported that the Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver told him is “amazing to have an offensive-minded head coach in Andy Reid. He has learned more in these last few months in Kansas City than in the five years in Pittsburgh.

“He said Reid makes you see the whole field. He answers the ‘why’. He makes you understand how to read defenses. And he says one of the best things Reid does is that before every game, he says, ‘Let your ‘personality’ out. He said there is nothing better a coach can say.”

Oh, it’s alright, JuJu. Was your personality restricted in Pittsburgh? Did Mike Tomlin somehow handcuff his personality in the midst of all his TikToks, endorsements, milk crate challenges, and dancing on opponents’ logos?

Other than that, though, the rest of what Smith-Schuster said is interesting and somewhat damning of his offensive development in Pittsburgh.

‘Year of reconstruction’???

The Steelers never like to say they’re rebuilding.

Even if they are.

At least most of the Steelers don’t and certainly not publicly. But Diontae Johnson did.

After Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the New York Jets, Johnson said, “Obviously it’s a rebuilding year. I’m not going to use that as an excuse. It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is or who is in any position. It’s our job to do it and win games. That’s what we have to do, is win.”

Rebuilding teams don’t win divisions, go to the playoffs, or stay above .500. And that’s what everyone uses as a measure of the Steelers’ success these days. But for those of us who have managed to see this team without the aid of black and gold colored glasses, we have been able to see that they have been trying to rebuild on the fly.

That is, without admitting it as a mission statement. Not pretending there’s a meltdown looming by trading veterans for picks. Without saying the word “rebuild” out loud.

But once players start using those words in the media, does it matter if the coach, GM or owners acknowledge it?

More Steelers News

Complaints vent: Defensive disappearance, ill-timed interceptions undermine Kenny Pickett’s Steelers debut in loss to Jets
Mitch Trubisky ‘disappointed’, didn’t expect to be benched as Steelers QB
Kenny Pickett fills in for Mitch Trubisky, but the Jets get past the Steelers on the late TD

Minkah’s comments

Mikah Fitzpatrick also had some pretty colorful things to say about the Steelers’ loss. Ones that I’m sure will turn heads in New York for the Jets.

“It’s very frustrating. It’s frustrating to lose against people you know you’re better, more talented than. Especially when you have the team that we have. We are a great team with a lot of talent. Lots of great young players. I think we’re much better than what we’ve been showing off,” Fitzpatrick said.

Well, maybe no more talented than the Jets’ talented young players based on the final score. And what about this other gem from Fitzpatrick about how Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was adjusting to the Steelers’ schemes late in the game?

“They adapted to our game plan”, security said. “They started throwing passes outside the numbers, away from the thief, which is what he was playing. But (Wilson) also gets paid. He is a quarterback in the NFL. He’s going to make big pitches. When they adapt, we have to adapt.”

That’s the second time in recent weeks that Steelers defenders have said opposing offenses have made crucial final adjustments to what the Steelers are doing on defense. Linebackers Malik Reed and Alex Highsmith made similar comments about how Mac Jones was recording advantageous running plays at the line of scrimmage while the New England Patriots were running down the clock. against the Steelers two weeks ago.

Hounded out of town

Pitt’s former trainer, Paul Chryst, has been fired from his alma mater.

Wisconsin relieved Christ of his duties after the team started 2-3. Another former Badger, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, will serve as interim coach.

Christ was born in Madison. In more than seven seasons at Wisconsin, he went 67-26, winning 10 games or more in four of his first five seasons. Chryst led the Badgers to the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl through three Big Ten West Division titles.

But the last few years have been a struggle. The program went 4-3 in 2020 before a slow start to the 2021 season, in which the Badgers finished 9-4. This year, they lost all three Power 5 games they played, including a 34-10 loss to Illinois at home last weekend. That’s after falling to Washington State (17-14) in Madison and 52-21 to Ohio State.

Chryst was the offensive coordinator at Madison before taking over Pitt’s program from 2012-14. He went 19-19 those three seasons with the Panthers before his return to the Badgers.

Tim Benz is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at or via Twitter. All tweets can be republished. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise specified.

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