George Pickens was the most hyped preseason player on the Steelers. The Georgia product was on a tear through training camp and the preseason and it led to many considering him the front runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, those times seem far away from where we are now.
Pickens has been a complete non factor in the first two games of the season. He only has six total targets and two receptions for 26 yards through the first two contests. For a player who was a focal point of the offense in training camp and the preseason, what happened?
Well, there is both good news and bad news for George Pickens. The good news is that he should potentially see that workload increase in time because he is open the entire game. The bad news is that the Steelers offense does not seem all that keen on getting Pickens involved.
In back to back weeks, Mitch Trubisky has made it a point to try and get Pickens involved. Will that ever happen? The retuning signs say no, even if Pickens continues to create separation and potential big plays. The issue is not Pickens himself, who looks as good as ever.
But Matt Canada and Trubisky have devised a game plan that does not emphasize the downfield passing game. If anything, it goes away from that. The Steelers continue to attack underneath and to the sideline. Pickens has won at all three levels, but his route tree has been mostly deep routes. The Steelers fail to attack the deep middle, so half of Pickens’ route tree is just pure go balls.
If is a frustrating usage but Pickens is almost always open. So, what can realistically be done moving forward? The Steelers need to make it a priority to pass the ball down the field. Either that, or Trubisky lacks confidence to push the ball down the field. He had a number of alarming throws off his back-foot. Trubisky does not seem comfortable.
So, the Steelers need to get Pickens the ball consistently. The ability is very clearly there for him. However, they need to make a concerted effort to get him the ball and make him a large part of the game plan. For a team that lacks explosive plays offensively, eliminating your best player to potentially bring that is not a sustainable strategy.
It is hard to change much in the span of four days. But if there is anything the Steelers can do, making an effort to get Pickens involved in the offense should be near the top of that list.