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Steelers Continue to Ignore George Pickens



Steelers WR George Pickens
Steelers WR George Pickens against the New England Patriots, Dec. 7, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers may as well not have George Pickens on their team. While the offense flounders, its best offensive weapon sits idly play after play, doing nothing. That’s not because Pickens is not open or does not want the ball, the team simply makes such little effort to give him the football.

George Pickens is frustrated. Again. But this time, it’s hard to blame him. The Steelers put together a putrid game plan to get Pickens involved, and over the last six games, he has averaged just five targets per game. For someone who looked like an actual top receiver and, more than that, the best weapon in the passing offense, Pickens has just five receptions for 19 yards. Most of the ways to get him involved were stop routes or screens. But that’s not how you get a guy like Pickens going.

You can see it on his face, in his body language. I’m not even sure it’s frustration. Pickens seems almost apathetic. He is exhausted and not sure what to do. The offense would benefit from more targets for him, but there is no doubt that he is fully enraptured in a cycle that seems to not end for him.

“He’s probably frustrated,” receiver Diontae Johnson said. “My job is to just tell him to keep his head in the game. You can’t let one bad play define the game for you. Once you do that, you take yourself out of the game. I’m always there for him and trying to keep his head in the game. You have to keep his energy up. We need him. When his energy comes down, he doesn’t make those plays anymore.

Pickens is the alpha dog of the offense, or at least should be. Instead, the Steelers have him as docile as a top receiver should be. The effort stuff gets highlighted each week. It’s an issue. Maybe it’s a symptom of a broader issue. But these receivers are not the problem. They’re talented enough to make noise and fireworks happen. Pittsburgh just does not let them.

Looking forward, the team must get Pickens involved far more than he is if they want to see more fruit from this offense. But that might not happen until there is an entire offensive regime change.