The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has been completely stagnant so far. It’s time to get George Pickens involved heavily against the Cleveland Browns.
So far, there isn’t a player on the Pittsburgh Steelers offense that has anybody scared. Teams are fine with giving Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth their 7-12 targets each per game as mostly everything has come underneath. Sadly, this has become the story of this team early in 2022. The lack of firepower is evident and the Steelers are averaging just 15.0 offensive points per game.
Obviously, something needs to change. While we are just entering Week 3, Mike Tomlin can no longer sit idly by and watch another pathetic offensive performance unfold before his eyes. Most of this blame falls on the shoulders of Matt Canada and Mitch Trubisky.
Though I wouldn’t expect a lot of major changes this week — especially with the Steelers on a short week to prepare for the Cleveland Browns — they do need to jump-start their offense. Deploying their secret weapon could be just the trick they need to build their confidence. George Pickens could be ‘that guy’ for the Steelers this week.
Steelers must involve George Pickens vs Browns
After a remarkable summer that included an eye-popping touchdown reception in Week 1 of the NFL preseason, Pickens has gone unnoticed in the shadow of an abysmal offense. Despite significant usage (78 percent of the team’s total offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Reference) Pickens has been targeted just 6 times.
His production looks even worse — only 2 receptions and 26 yards so far through two games. When he is finally targeted, half of his looks have been deemed uncatchable. There’s a reason why: the Steelers simply aren’t using George Pickens the right way.
Recently, ESPN’s Seth Walder broke down Pickens’ usage on specific routes. The findings were not good. Essentially, Pickens has primarily been used away from where Matt Canada’s scripted plays have been designed on fades and go routes. There has been very little creativity here, as the route combinations and spacing has really been lacking. That needs to change this week.
Though Canada isn’t going to scrap his playbook, the Steelers know that this is a young man who has to be more involved in the offense if they want to have success. Pittsburgh must understand that they should not limit his route tree; rather, they need to utilize him all over the field — specifically in the middle, where Mitch Trubisky has struggled.
Instead of essentially being used as a decoy who the play is never designed to go to, the Steelers need to make Pickens the first read and primary target on many of these plays. Get their 6’3 1/4” receiver with 4.47 speed going across the middle on a deep post or a drag. Allow him to find a rhythm and get going early.
The Cleveland Browns have a very suspect pass defense so far this season. With Jadeveon Clowney out vs the Steelers this week, Pittsburgh should be able to buy time in the passing game by focusing on Myles Garrett. By doing so, they should be looking to deploy Pickens deep over the middle of the field — something they have been notoriously bad at so far.
The way the Steelers have used George Pickens has been about as poor as we could have imagined so far. However, I have a feeling he’s going to get rolling really soon. Pittsburgh should kick-start things by involving their secret weapon heavily against the Browns on Thursday Night Football.