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.