INDIANAPOLIS — On Saturday, an interview that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did with team reporter Bob Labriola was published that touched on, among other things, the attitude and maturity of his second-year wide receiver George Pickens.
Tomlin gave an expansive answer on how Pickens’ acerbic sideline demeanor and questionable on-field focus level have become problems for the team, and said that he and Pickens had a meeting on that very topic this week.
Tomlin described how defenses will come into a game with an agenda to attempt to limit an offensive star for as long as possible to start a game, with the hope that by doing so, they’ll grow frustrated and take themselves out of the game.
“He and I had a great meeting this week,” Tomlin said. “He needs to understand it is an agenda. It is a game plan. It is something that’s constructed to break him and the unit down. And that’s why it’s so important that he manages the frustration component of it.”
Well, Tomlin didn’t specifically bring up Pickens’ effort level on running plays, but suffice to say, if they did, he’s not going to be happy with the way things played out on Saturday.
In the first quarter of the game, with the Steelers driving and just after Pickens had made a catch to put the team into the red zone, running back Jaylen Warren broke free and was headed to the end zone. Pickens was down field, but he made seemingly no effort to attempt to block Colts cornerback Jaylon Jones. Pickens stood still and watched as Jones made the tackle at the 1-yard line, preventing Warren from scoring.
The Steelers eventually punched the ball in, but not until Mitch Trubisky needed a replay review after his fourth-down sneak. The non-block nearly cost the Steelers six points.
Pickens didn’t have any notable verbal outbursts on the sideline, but he was again sulking on the bench during the game.
These images are 13 months apart from each other and at the same stadium. I truly hope that #GeorgePickens can get to that “happy place” in his career and end using the incredible talent he was given by god to help this @steelers team. It really appears that he’s still just as… pic.twitter.com/3c776EJ3Ns
— Ed Thompson (@ThompsonFoto12) December 17, 2023
Tomlin took an unusual step in publicly detailing how and why one his players needs to improve. It’s up to Pickens to make it happen.