PITTSBURGH — George Pickens is in a slump. That much is very apparent. Pittsburgh’s leading receiver has not had a touchdown reception since the team’s loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars on October 29th. He has not eclipsed 100 yards since the team went to Los Angeles and beat the Rams out of the bye week.
The frustrations have mounted, with Pickens being irate on the sidelines multiple times over the season. 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.
Whatever George Pickens is feeling or thinking….I understand….. pic.twitter.com/JI5LOVNh0R
— Steelers Network (@SteelersNetwork) December 8, 2023
However, Pickens consistently expressing those frustrations on the sideline is not the way to go about things. Even if he deserves more targets, it shares to create more outside noise and infest the locker room. Doing so causes problems and does not fix the actual problem, which is getting Pickens more targets. Mike Tomlin said as much during his weekly press conference.
“It’s a problem because it’s not solution-oriented,” Tomlin said. “We’re all frustrated, but we have to manage our frustration in a professional and mature way and when it’s not done that way, it’s not necessarily pushing us towards solutions.”
George Pickens is a talented receiver and a young player. But his inability to handle the frustrations is turning into a pattern more than a one-off concern. He is not the only player concerned or frustrated, and while that is a human emotion, Tomlin expects Pickens to improve in those areas soon.
“I think it can happen to anyone when things aren’t going well, to be honest with you,” Tomlin said “We care a lot, we put a lot into it and so frustration is a natural human response. But I’m completely comfortable asking these guys to do unnatural things because they’re professional athletes. That’s our job to do the unique things and make them look regular, to make them look ordinary.”
Pickens is not even the only frustrated player in the locker room. Diontae Johnson has been blasted for a lack of effort, voiced his frustrations, and has generally done similar things to Pickens. The receivers are not the main issue in the offense, not even close. Their talent allows the passing offense to get the small amount of juice out of it that it does get, but those frustrations only serve to create discord inside a locker room that does not need more of it on top of on-field struggles.