3 positive takeaways from Steelers impressive preseason win vs Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Pittsburgh Steelers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Pittsburgh Steelers / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Steelers finally returned to action as their 2023 preseason kicked off in Tampa against the Buccaneers Friday night. It may not be the most thrilling brand of football for fans chomping at the bit for Steelers action, but it is the first official game of the year. It also gives fans a first look at what players have taken strides since last season and what level of depth the team will have waiting in the wings for future opportunities.

While the preseason is not the end all be all, it can serve as a way to gauge an individual's preparedness and development. Last year's team, mainly the offense, left fans questioning the future of this franchise and how quickly they could return to being a real threat in the AFC.

If Friday night's performance was any indication, that time could be coming sooner than many had anticipated. Here are three positive notes that fans should feel happy about walking away from the Steelers' first win of the preseason:

1. Kenny Pickett and the Steelers offense showed no signs of rust

First-stringers only get a drive or two to knock the rust off in week one of the preseason, so it is essential to play polished football and hopefully answer some criticism from the previous year. The Steelers starting offense did just that in their first drive.

Steelers' offensive coordinator Matt Canada was often criticized in 2022 for not calling plays to throw the ball over the middle of the field, causing the Steelers to be one of the worst run-after-the-catch teams in the NFL. Canada seemed to hear those criticisms and made sure to show that his playbook is not just go-routes and comebacks in 2023. Quick passes to Diontae Johnson and George Pickens made up a good chunk of the drive, giving the offense a new dimension.

Kenny Pickett and the Steelers also managed to convert two third and long situations, which was tough to come by just a season ago. Contributions from Pat Freiermuth and Jaylen Warren also helped the Steelers move down the field as the offensive unit looked like a well-oiled machine.

Pickett would finish the drive by completing 6 of his 7 passes for 70 yards and a beautiful touchdown throw to George Pickens, who made a couple of defenders miss before taking a stroll into the endzone, via ESPN stats.