Steelers News

Tomlin Addresses Lack Of Targets For George Pickens: ‘What Happens In Stadiums Is More Important Than What Your Intentions Are’

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has scored 27 points in regulation through eight quarters of play. They have two touchdowns to their name on the unit, two passes to Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth, one per game. And the man who entered the regular season as the favorite to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year has two catches.

That would be second-round wide receiver George Pickens, whom the Steelers have not found the ability to get going yet. After last week’s victory in which he had just one catch for three yards, quarterback Mitch Trubisky said that he wanted to make an effort to get him more involved, but that hasn’t happened yet. Head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the topic following this afternoon’s loss to the New England Patriots.

I don’t know that I had expectations about what that would look like“, he said about Pickens’ usage and production early in the season, via the team’s YouTube channel. “I think at the early portions of the year, you’re establishing roles and what happens in stadiums is more important than maybe what your intentions are. Intentions are just that. The reality of how we perform, how we divide the labor up, and how we distribute the ball and who makes the plays is what’s important in-stadium”.

Trubisky attempted 33 passes during today’s game, with 10 targets going to Diontae Johnson, as you would expect. Freiermuth was targeted seven times, with Chase Claypool and Harris both drawing six, so there wasn’t a lot of ball distribution with the top four skill position players dictating on the day, accounting for all but four targets—the one that didn’t go to Pickens was for Jaylen Warren, who was dropped for a loss on a dump off on 3rd and 8.

Pickens did catch one of his three targets on a very nice grab on the sideline for 23 yards just before the half, on a drive on which the Steelers failed to capitalize after giving up a touchdown. One would have hoped that it would be the play to get him jump-started, but it hasn’t happened yet.

The rookie acknowledged last week when pressed that there was a bit of frustration with his lack of production during the opener. Although he had an explosive play today—the only one the offense had—it was still just another one-catch game.

Obviously, getting Pickens the ball more isn’t going to magically make this Trubisky-led offense more efficient than it is. As suggested, this is still a talented group of skill players, Johnson chief among them, who earns the target share that he sees.

But given the product we’re currently getting on the field from the offensive side of the ball, it’s reasonable for people to be asking when we’re going to be seeing more of the guy everyone has already decided is the next great thing in Pittsburgh.

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