Fichtner ‘Not Surprised’ By Washington’s Struggles

Steelers OC says Washington is getting open

Josh Rowntree
October 03, 2019 - 3:12 pm

Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has seen the struggles that wide receiver James Washington has had this season, but does not appear to be overly concerned. 

Washington, a collegiate teammate of Steelers starting quarterback Mason Rudolph, has not been able to carry their Oklahoma State and preseason chemistry into the regular season.

“No particular reason for it and I’m not surprised,” Fichtner said. “When it comes, it comes. And they have hooked up, just haven’t hooked up as much as we’d like them to.”

When asked if Washington is getting open, Fichtner replied, “Sure.”

Washington’s production has dropped in each game. In the opener, he was targeted six times, making two catches for 51 yards. Against Seattle in Week Two, he caught two passes for just 23 yards. In the loss in San Francisco, he caught two passes for 14 yards. He had only one target, and no receptions, in Monday's win over Cincinnati. 

“I work,” Washington said. “I try to just do my best and do whatever I can do to help this team win.”

At Oklahoma State, Washington pulled in 226 receptions for 4,472 yards and 39 touchdowns. Most of that came from Rudolph, who took over as a starter in their freshmen season of 2014. 

If Washington is getting open, as Fichtner says, it opens the door for the interpretation that Rudolph is not throwing him the ball. This would seem to be in line with Fichtner's criticisms of Rudolph a week ago.

“It’s been two games (together) and it’s just kind of happened that way,” Rudolph said of the recent struggles. “Different people step up. The last game was our running backs, who did a great job advancing the ball. 

“James will get it. He’s had a great week of practice and it’s just a matter of time until you get the right look and you get connected.”

Washington was given an opportunity to grasp the No. 2 wide receiver spot following the departure of Antonio Brown this offseason. That looked to be close to happening following this preseason, in which Washington racked up 208 yards and two scores.

But the preseason version of James Washington is not showing up now. And the Steelers, 1-3, need him to deliver more, especially with AFC North rival Baltimore coming to Heinz Field Sunday.

“I’ve just got to keep working,” Washington said. “It’ll happen. (I’ll) just stay confident in everybody on this team and trust that everything that happens happens for a reason.”

Hear more from Randy Fichtner below.