Inside Conditions: The ‘out-of-tune’ Steelers now seem to be ‘in-tune’

Finally, the Pittsburgh Steelers have achieved more than 400 yards of offense after failing to do so for almost 60 games. The recently de­posed Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Cana­da and his “Canada Dry” offense, as my colleague Brandon Walker de­scribes Matt Canada’s offensive philosophy, is partially to blame.

However, the Steelers’ 2022 NFL first-round draft pick QB Kenny “Charley Brown” Pick­ett must bear the lion’s share of the blame.

Rob Gregson posted an article on A-to-Z Sports titled: “Steelers’ Kenny Pickett named as the fall guy in Matt Can­ada’s firing.” Gregson writes, “Matt Canada probably knew he was on borrowed time with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a while. Regardless of how surprising the in-season move was, Canada had to have known the writing was on the wall following another putrid start to the season from the of­fense.”

Gregson also wrote that Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network pointed out: “The fol­lowing issues with Can­ada’s offensive scheme: too many college con­cepts, poor spacing cre­ated, lack of an inter­mediate passing game, and lack of identity. But even with those issues, the biggest problem was the lack of develop­ment from second-year QB Kenny Pickett, who team sources said had ‘an outstanding offsea­son.’”

Unless I missed some­thing, the last time that I checked, what you accomplish in the off­season and at training camp as well as in pre­season games will not get a Lombardi for you to display in your tro­phy case, will it? Game after game and week after week after Steel­ers tight end Pat Frei­ermuth was injured, Kenny Pickett appeared as if the middle of the gridiron had a 20-foot-high fence around it, yet when Freiermuth re­turned from injury, the middle of the field part­ed like Moses parting the red sea. In the recent Steelers win against the Bengals, Nov. 26, “Muth” was targeted 11 times with 9 catches for 120 yards and domi­nated the middle of the field for the Black and Gold. Until the return of Freiermuth, Pickett seemed as if he was an aficionado of George Clinton, Parliament Funkadelic, and James Brown unsuccessfully lip-synching: “I got ants in my pants and I need to dance.”

There were times when Kenny Pickett dropped back to pass and looked as if he had ants in his pants, shoes, shirt, and underwear because he was jumping around in the pocket like he was a Mexican jumping bean. To say that he appeared as if he was “skittish” would be a massive un­derstatement.

Also, when the Steel­ers’ second-year wide receiver George Pick­ens recently asked for more targets, folks act­ed as if Pickens asked for the ninth pork chop at dinner for a family of 10. On Nov. 10, I wrote a column titled: “Times of Uncertainty: Is Ken­ny Pickett really the answer?” I wrote: “How dare George Pickens want more catches. Ken­ny Pickett and Steelers Offensive Coordinator, Matt Canada, oversee the Steelers offense. How dare Pickens add his two cents. He had better get in the hud­dle and accept whatever crumbs they throw at him, shut up his mouth, and get paid or he will end up in the graveyard of the so-called ‘selfish’ Steelers. I can picture the inscription on his career tombstone now: ‘Here lies the career of a promising young play­er, whose playing days were cut short by selfish and self-serving narcis­sists and control freaks because he desired to have a productive ca­reer.’”

In the absence of Pat Freiermuth, Kenny Pickett missed multiple throws across the mid­dle of the field. How­ever, when Freiermuth returned it appeared as if the self-imposed blinders on Pickett were removed and Pick­ett seemed to have an epiphany that, “there was a middle part of the field, and it was legal to throw passes in that area.”

Kenny Pickett contin­ued to throw and at­tempt sideline passes to his wideouts when of­tentimes, the sidelines functioned almost as a second defender and de­fensive backs could force press coverage a bit eas­ier, sometimes making pinpointed throws (ex­cept back shoulder pass attempts) a bit more dif­ficult. Did Freiermuth and Pickett privately huddle up to watch film and strategize, antic­ipating Freiermuth’s return? Maybe, maybe not, but to the naked eye, if Kenny Pickett was a percussionist in an orchestra, throwing and completing pass­es to his wide receivers seems to be relative to him playing a snare drum. However, he con­nects with tight end Pat Freiermuth, it appears as if Pickett is playing a timpani drum. If the 2023 Pittsburgh Steel­ers and their head coach Mike Tomlin are going to have a successful sea­son, Kenny Pickett, the “conductor,” must un­derstand the following: “It takes more than one instrument to complete and perform symphonic works,” and the conduc­tor must always include the entire orchestra.






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