On Thursday, Pittsburgh Steelers OC Matt Canada spoke to the media regarding the outcome of Sunday night’s win in Baltimore against the Ravens and the team’s upcoming matchup at home against the Cleveland Browns to wrap up the 2022 regular season.
Canada was asked about QB Kenny Pickett’s growth the past couple of weeks where he stepped up in the fourth quarter of both the Ravens and Raiders game and led TD drives to take the lead. When asked about those drives and what would be the next step for Pickett’s growth as a passer, Canada mentioned that while Pickett’s grow has been encouraging, the offense still needs to do a better job overall at its #1 goal: put point on the scoreboard.
“I don’t know if it’s just for Kenny. Like I said, we got to score. I think we all know we got to score more. I mean, we can’t go down there and not get touchdowns and there is no magic,” Canada said regarding the offense Thursday to the media on video from Jeff Hathhorn’s Twitter page. “I don’t know if that’s just on Kenny, but I think Kenny’s taking care of the football. He’s done a great job with that here since the bye. I mean, a lot of things since the bye have been really, really positive.”
Pickett made the exact same statement just yesterday in his own presser, stating that the offense needs to get better at executing in the red zone and successfully score TDs rather than settling for field goals. While Pickett’s fourth quarter performances have been impressive the last two weeks, the Steelers have only scored 13 and 16 points, respectively in back-to-back games. It’s encouraging to see signs of Pittsburgh being able to get it done in crunch time like against Las Vegas, Baltimore, or even Indianapolis back a few weeks ago, but this team can’t rely on its defense to consistently hold the opposition under 20 points every contest, meaning that they need to start scoring more points.
While Canada showed he was willing to praise Pickett for his performance and ability to protect the football since the team’s bye week, he also tempered the focus on his rookie QB, stating that the rest of the team is also liable for the offense’s success or failure on a weekly basis.
“So, all those things you’re asking about Kenny, but I think it goes at everybody,” Canada said. “It’s not when we we’re not succeeding the way we wanted to or when we don’t in a drive, it’s not always the quarterback. And when we are, it’s not always a quarterback.”
While this may look like Canada raining on Pickett’s parade a little bit, it does have some merit. Pittsburgh has found an offensive identity in its running game, gashing opponents on the ground like they did against the Ravens, piling up a whopping 198 rushing yards. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are running the ball effectively behind an improving offensive line that is driving the defense off the ball. While Pickett deserves credit for making the clutch plays on those final drives, the OL has protected him well the last two weeks along with a potent running game that compliments the passing game.
If Pittsburgh doesn’t run for 198 on the Ravens, it’s difficult to say that they win that game. Pickett will have his time to continue growing into the passer the team hopes he can become, but leaning on a strong running game and a stingy defense as a rookie QB isn’t a terrible situation to be in. In fact, it has been a great recipe for success the second half of the season, and could very well be the key factor that gets Pittsburgh into the playoffs should Pickett continue to protect the football and converts more drives into scores in the red zone.