The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team coming off a bye and searching for something, anything, they do well to emphasize in the second half of the season. Throughout the self-evaluation process which accompanies the bye week, it became clear the Steelers don’t do anything particularly well at this juncture.
Not offensively or defensively.
When offensive coordinator Matt Canada met with the media Thursday, he was asked specifically about his rookie quarterback. In other words, what does he want to see from Pickett in the second half of the season?
The answer was simple, and it was something he should eliminate, not necessarily something he wants to see him continue to do.
Eliminate those rookie mistakes.
“I think that’ll be the testament to him if he continues to take mistakes off the table.” said Canada. “He’s going to make mistakes; he’s a rookie quarterback in the NFL. You guys have all covered it. You know how that works. All rookies do that. Those things occur at that position, which is so focal if it occurs, but it’s never okay. We’re not justifying. We know there’s no curve for that.
“But I think, to answer your question, what we’re looking for is for him to not make the same mistakes again. Obviously, as he evolves, and I think when you look at guys who’ve played a long time, that’s what occurs. So, hopefully he’ll do that. He’s working hard at it and had a good week to prepare. Feel good about it.”
Pickett’s numbers haven’t been great. When you look at his total body of work throughout the brief time he’s been the starting quarterback, it’s been downright ugly at times. Is he better than his statistics might dictate?
“Like I said, you look at some really, really great quarterbacks in the history of the National Football League, they didn’t have great rookie stat lines, right?” Canada answered when talking about Pickett’s first half. “I think if we all look at that, that’s not where we are. We’ve got to win, and he knows that.
“Like I said, I tell you all the time, he’s an unbelievably competitive guy, so he’s not happy with that. We’re not happy with that. But I think Kenny is going to have a tremendous second half of the season and a tremendous career.”
If there is one statistic which jumps off the screen when talking about the dismal Steelers offense, it would be the fact their longest scoring play has been a whopping 8-yards. This stat is dead-last in the NFL, but can fans expect that to change coming off a bye week?
“It is what it is. We had a week off. We’re ready to get going with the second half of the year. We’ve got nine games to go.” Canada said. “There’s a lot of things we want to do better. We’ve got to minimize some mistakes and execute at a higher level at those key times for those plays to occur. I say that a lot, the players have said it, we’ve sat in there and looked at it. There are plays that are there, opportunities to make them. We’re a little bit off here and there. We can talk about the rookie quarterback or reps in camp; nobody cares. We’ve got to find a way to score more points.”
You may, or may not, like Canada as a play caller, but you can’t disagree with the last two sentences of the above quote. The Steelers are 2-6, and near the bottom of the NFL in every major/important offensive statistic. He could stand up in front of the media and wax poetic about how the team is about to right the ship, turn the corner or any other idiom he chooses to use.
However, as fans love to say, talk is cheap. It’s time for Pickett, and the Steelers offense, to go out and prove their worth when it matters the most. To be able to not just put together scoring drives, but to do so in a way which is conducive to winning football games.
Will this happen in Week 10 vs. the New Orleans Saints? It is the team’s first home game since their Week 6 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and coming off the bye should certainly help bolster a unit desperate for help. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Saints this Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.