CLEVELAND — The Steelers passing offense is dreadful. It has been over the past month. So, naturally, Pittsburgh would have gotten back into the film room and might have an idea as to why they are struggling, right? Well, you’d be wrong. Kenny Pickett is the first quarterback since the AFL-NFL 1970 merger to throw a touchdown on fewer than 2% of his attempts career attempts (1.9%) and keeps setting new records that plummet Pittsburgh into further disarray in the air. But no one in Pittsburgh has an answer.
“That’s a great question. We have to get in and find out,” Pickett said when asked how to fix the passing offense.
Pickett has regressed from earlier in the season. He looks nothing like he was last season. Miscommunication between Pickett and the receivers keeps popping up. Pass protection is struggling and blowing protections. The scheme leaves little meat on the bone with an all-sideline route tree.
However, now the team has a run game. That makes their struggles through the air even more curious. Teams are still dictating looks despite Pittsburgh running the ball in the passing game. And Pittsburgh can run the ball against good defenses single-high looks and has punished two-high with great success. But teams don’t care, mainly because Pittsburgh may boast the worst passing offense in football now. When asked how to fix it, Mike Tomlin sidestepped the question entirely.
“I don’t know if you could describe it as having a tough time getting going,” Tomlin said. “Maybe we just have run it really effectively for the last few weeks.”
Sure, they have. But that is a non-answer. Najee Harris did not know what to do either. Coming from someone who knew what to do when the run game struggled, which was to call more meetings and break down what each group liked, this is concerning. Harris will call a team meeting, but that will only go so far as to fix the issue. Pittsburgh has to find something.
“Yeah, in some situations, to be honest with you,” Harris said when asked if teams knew the Steelers plays. “Do they know what plays are coming, this team? I don’t know yet. But I mean, there have been some in the past. I just don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m just stuck in this situation where I just don’t have an answer to it. All I can do is just ride this little wave.”
When players have no answer, and the head coach sidesteps the obvious problem, some changes must be made. It’s not just one look they are struggling against; it’s the fundamental execution of passing the football. The accuracy from the quarterback, communication, and all of the nuances that this point should work out are not. That falls on coaching for not coordinating this group, and the finer details are lacking every week in that facet of the game. Something has to change.
The locker room is fed up, and they are tired. Everyone knew when they were winning, things could go well. But Diontae Johnson blew up on the sideline, George Pickens blew up on the sideline, and Harris is critical to the media, too. Pickett even seemed ticked off. This is an offense that is tired of the process being ignored. Significant changes have to come out of that meeting Harris will call. The vibe is the locker room won’t stand for anything else.