For the umpteenth time this season, George Pickens finds himself in hot water.
After being seen not blocking on a Jaylen Warren one inside the red zone, Pickens was asked about his effort, to which he said everyone questioning his effort don’t play football. Pickens went on a passive-aggressive spiel saying that everyone praised him for his blocking last season, but or berating him for the play against the Colts.
Pickens has been the focal point of criticism for multiple reasons at multiple different times this year. He cleared his social media of anything Steelers related, to which he played off as people reading too far into things. His emotions have also come out more often than not.
On top of all that, though, it seems that every defensive leader on the Steelers’ roster has subtly called out Pickens’ effort.
After their loss to New England, Minkah Fitzpatrick said that some guys just want everything handed to them and don’t want to work for the results.
Cam Heyward echoed Fitzpatrick, saying the Steelers need to “learn or change who’s in [the locker room].”
Plus, T.J. Watt slammed players for not wanting to practice, and not showing effort in practice.
“You play how you practice and practice how you play.” Pickens, you’re too talented for this!!— Edwin ️ (@EdwinSphere) December 20, 2023
According to Rich Eisen, TJ Watt said - "He said it was wild that some of them don’t want to practice is what he said. Or want to practice in a way that everyone is supposed to… pic.twitter.com/guo2o0hhvC
If Mike Tomlin were consistent and serious, he would bench Pickens. He did it to Chuks Okorafor for questioning the offensive gameplan. If it’s a one strike and you’re out situation for Okorafor, why has Pickens been allowed to be a constant distraction all season? We all know the answer- because who else will the Steelers rely on at receiver? When Okorafor was benched, they put their first-round pick, Broderick Jones, at right tackle. Who is behind Pickens? Allen Robinson? Calvin Austin? It’s such a far downgrade at that position if you bench No. 14, but at this point why does it matter? The season has already slipped away. The Steelers have a very slim chance of making the playoffs, they should at least stand on the principles that they swear still matter.
Is this to say they need to give up on Pickens and ship him out of town? No. At the end of the day, he is a 23 year-old who is still figuring out how to be a professional football player and navigate the ebbs and flows that come with it. However, he isn’t going to learn without consequences. If it doesn’t get better, or if it becomes evident that he isn’t a good locker room fit, then you move him and get a couple draft picks in return. The next few weeks will determine a lot for the Steelers going forward. Is their head coach going to be back? What will they do about their subpar quarterback situation? Will actual progressive changes be made? Time will tell.