The Pittsburgh Steelers offense must be given credit for totaling 351 yards and moving the chains on third down at a 50% rate (a highly efficient mark). Quarterback Kenny Pickett put together some impressive plays throughout the game as Najee Harris led the team with 17 carries for 86 yards.
And still, several miscues should be noted. The Steelers offense went 1-of-3 in the red zone, and Diontae Johnson had an inexcusable drop to go with an almost-fumble.
At the center of the offense’s frustrations was Pittsburgh’s second-round rookie George Pickens.
The wideout finished the day with only one catch for two yards in two targets. His frustration was evident in multiple spots. Once, as Cam Heyward talked to him on the sidelines and another after Johnson’s overturned fumble.
Pickens appeared to yell at the Steelers’ sideline to “get him the f***ing ball!”
He also declined a postgame interview. By giving no statement, the receiver made a loud one.
Although there’s a point to be made that – in an ideal world – the Steelers wide receiver would tuck his head in and be happy about a hard-fought team win, you can’t deny the kid has a point.
Good things have happened for the Steelers when they target Pickens.
He has made jaw-dropping catch after jaw-dropping catch and has proven to be a reliable pair of hands. And yet he’s targeted twice in the same game that Johnson gets 11 targets?
It’s understandable that the Steelers want to trust the guy they just paid. But drops are nothing new in his career. One thing is to want to spread the football as much as possible and another one is to not come up with a good enough plan to get Pickens the ball more often.
The postgame debate on Pickens’ game has been centered on whether or not he was open all game or not. At this point, I don’t think that’s what the debate should be about. It should be about the Steelers finding ways for him to be open for him to see more than two looks in the entire game.
Just as Pickens needs to handle things more maturely, offensive coordinator Matt Canada needs to find ways to scheme Pickens as a priority on offense instead of an afterthought.
There’s a lot to love about Sunday’s win. I wrote about the Steelers defense showing up in the big third downs and the offense milking the clock at the beginning of each half. But as Kenny Pickett mentioned after the game, they still need to do a better job in the red zone moving forward.
Getting Pickens involved has to be a part of that solution.
Featured image via Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports