Moving into the 2022 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense is thoroughly unrecognizable in the wake of the many changes that have taken place over the past two or three years. There was no bigger change than at quarterback, with Ben Roethlisberger retiring this year following an 18-year career.
The team has already identified Kenny Pickett as the man they believe will ultimately be his successor, but the changes go much deeper than just at quarterback, as nearly the entire offense is different from two or three years ago, in no small part to the recent early contributions of rookies.
The 2022 season figures to be no exception, even if Pickett doesn’t start at quarterback, as they added receivers in the second and fourth rounds who are likely to play early, including George Pickens their second-round pick.
“It’s kind of like Georgia in some sense”, Pickens told reporters last week while addressing the media following a rookie minicamp practice, referring to the offense. “We always had a pro-style offense. Big Ben’s not here, so of course a lot of things are gonna change from the old Steelers, but I feel like we’re progressing”.
While we don’t know if Pickett is going to start, we do know that Roethlisberger isn’t going to come back walking into that locker room with pads on. The Steelers signed veteran free agent Mitch Trubisky back in March to ostensibly be their starter, and that’s still arguably on track even after the draft, at least for the start of the season.
But whether it’s Pickett or Trubisky, we should see a fair bit of differentiation in this offense compared to two years ago, and even last year, even though Matt Canada returns as offensive coordinator. He should be more free to run his offense this season for a number of reasons that have been discussed here frequently.
The growing of young players is a big factor as well, players such as Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, and Dan Moore Jr. The offensive line additions via free agency in James Daniels and Mason Cole should also help to provide some protective stability that better enables the Steelers to run what they want to run.
And perhaps Pickens is finally the type of wide receiver that they need in this offense to really take it to another level, something that they have lacked since Antonio Brown Antonio-Browned his way out of town.
Sometimes change is good, and frankly, it’s not hard to visualize changes from last season’s offense as being a positive. Moving on from a proven franchise quarterback is always an anxious period, but time will tell if they’ve identified the right arm for this offense heading into the future.