When Pittsburgh Steelers fans think of the team’s offense in 2021 and 2022, you hear the same disgusted comments. Most are directed at offensive coordinator Matt Canada and likely involve someone talking about the Jet Sweep play which fans have used as a narrative since Canada started calling plays.
What those fans who despise Canada, and his play calling, don’t want to hear is how the team’s offense is actually improving. When you consider the changes made along the roster, improvement is evident. Not only is change expected, but the team’s offense is also light years ahead of where they were a year ago.
Considering this time in 2022, the team had newly acquired Mitch Trubisky, first round pick Kenny Pickett, fellow rookie Chris Oladokun, and incumbent Mason Rudolph as the team’s quarterbacks. Not really the best way to get the offense off the ground, not to mention other factors like a new offensive line coach with new philosophies being implemented.
Pickett spoke at Organized Team Activities (OTAs) last week and talked about just how far the offense has come in one year.
“I went back and watched last year’s OTAs and it’s a different team, not just in terms of players, but how much we have in(stalled) already,” Pickett said Tuesday. “It’s a credit to the coaching staff, honestly, and guys working hard and showing up when you don’t have to be. And it’s being here and knowing what you have to do to put six installs in or five installs in, when we were only at one or two last year. Everyone is working hard.”
The previously mentioned improvement in the roster shouldn’t be understated when it comes to the progress Pickett speaks of, and he realizes just how important this part of the process is for the young, and hopefully upcoming, offense.
“We’ve got the guys. We’ve just got to go execute now,” Pickett said. “That’s how football is. At some point, it’s players not plays. Guys are working. They’re showing up with great attitudes with one goal in mind. It’s good to see. It’s fun to be around and compete against the great defense we have.”
As for Pickett, now the leader on the offensive side of the ball, what exactly is he looking to get out of these OTAs and his first training camp as the entrenched starter?
“Really mastering the offense and being an extension of the coaching staff,” Pickett said when asked what he’s worked on this offseason. “I can echo things and say how I want it and how I like it. The communication from player to coach has been great. We’re kind of spreading it out to the receiving room, the tight ends. Everyone is on the same page. I think communication is No. 1 in my position and letting everyone know where they need to be. These guys are all professionals, and they show up and work hard.”
Pickett realizes this is still just the beginning. While the team is vastly improved from where they were last year at this time, offenses are evolutionary, and this offense is the same. Every year there are ways to add on to what was previously established.
“You talk to guys who have been in an offense for 10 years and they talk about how every year there’s something new that kind of pops up,” Pickett said. “They’re like, ‘We were able to expand off this.’ There’s always more you can build on each play. I don’t think you ever stop mastering a system. You can always add things or take things out, make things better. I think I’m on the right track and we’re headed that way. I think it’s definitely a process.”
Will the Steelers being ahead of where they were a year ago equate in more wins? Fans will have to be patient in this regard considering there are still months before the Steelers take the field when it actually matters.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.