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Homistek: George Pickens Needs a Chill Pill




George Pickens can’t keep doing this.

During the Steelers’ 19-16 win over the Falcons Sunday, the rookie wide receiver Pickens went off –– and I don’t mean he posted a ridiculous stat line.

I mean he melted down inside Mercedes Benz Stadium:

Pickens finished the game with one catch for two yards.

On the season, Pickens hauled in 37 passes for 512 yards and two touchdowns.

Let’s do some math. (I know, I know. I hate it, too. But stick with me here.)

The Steelers played 12 games and sit at 5-7 for the year.

Pickens’ numbers, on a per-game basis, break down as follows:

  • 3.1 receptions per game
  • 42.67 yards per game
  • 0.17 touchdowns per game

And that’s just it.

Pickens behaves like a perennial All-Pro, but the reality is, uhh… not that.

Now, put away the pitchforks and let me say this: The Steelers’ offense under Matt Canada is a disaster. The team ranks 24th in passing yards per game and 29th in offensive touchdowns scored.

And this comes after back-to-back wins for them.

Needless to say, Pickens left some catches, some yardage, and some touchdowns on the table this season, partly due to the Canada + rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett combination and partly due to, well:

Stuff like that (and no, Pickett didn’t leave the field begging Pickens to catch the f***ing ball). That’s not cherry-picked, either. Pickens actually leads the team in drops with four.

This is a young, growing Steelers team, and Pickens’ over-the-top frustration helps nothing.

It looks immature and it distracts from the task at hand.

“You know, you can get frustrated when the numbers aren’t there, but you have to try to not let it get to you,” Diontae Johnson said of Pickens’ anger after the game in Atlanta. “It can’t take you out of the game.”

That’s veteran leadership from a man who has experienced his fair share of frustration on the field. To his credit, Johnson went to Pickens on the sideline and tried to talk him through his troubles during the game. He was there for the rookie when needed.

As was defensive captain Cam Heyward:

As was Pickett.

“He’s a competitor man, of course [he was angry],” Pickett said at Mercedes Benz Stadium. “You know, we want to get the ball to George. We’ll continue to work that with Diontae, George, Pat [Freiermuth]. We’ve got weapons everywhere. Sometimes, that’s just how it goes.

“Some days it can be George’s, or Diontae’s, or Pat’s. That’s just how it works with this offense because the defense dictates what we do and where the ball goes. Today, it was spread around really well. But obviously, we want to get the ball in 14’s hands.”

Pickens boasts the potential to be special, and his teammates clearly have his back.

But it’s unrealistic, as Pickett notes, to expect an offense putting up just 199.3 passing yards per game to feed Pickens and Johnson and Freiermuth while also getting Najee Harris involved on the ground. This just isn’t that team.

On the flip side, Pickens looks flat-out legit even when the numbers don’t support the eye test.

He established himself as a name to watch throughout his rookie training camp with some acrobatic, jaw-dropping catches, then extended that reputation in regular-season action:

At 6’3″, 201 pounds with hands like that and 4.47 speed, Pickens might be not only the most dangerous receiver in the Steelers’ locker room but one of the best young receivers in the NFL outright.

His future looks ultra promising.

The boisterous complaining, though? It’s gotta stop.

It looks bad, it solves nothing, and it distracts him –– and his teammates –– from the mission at hand.

As a Steeler, it’s a trend with him dating back to his time with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.

And it’s time to end.

Take a chill pill, George. Everyone knows you want the ball.

Those opportunities will come.

Alan Saunders contributed reporting from Atlanta.

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