It’s been a rather frustrating start to the 2022 season through three games for the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially offensively. From the players to the coaches, and even the fan base, frustration has been a consistent feeling around the offense through three games.
That includes rookie wide receiver George Pickens, who already wears his heart on his sleeve in all instances. Pair that with the frustrations he’s already experiencing with a lack of production and targets and it’s understandable to see him rather frustrated overall with the lack of targets and the ball not coming his way so far in the season, especially after his absurd one-handed catch against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football in Week 3.
After that catch, Pickens didn’t see another target until late in the first half, leading to some outbursts of emotion after being open on some routes, but not seeing the football thrown his way.
It’s good to have emotions and show that on the field, but for Steelers captain and defensive leader Cameron Heyward, who talked about his rookie teammate on his latest podcast episode of Not Just Football with Cam Heyward, he wants to see Pickens control that emotion a bit more, especially when the frustration may be perceived as directed towards a fellow teammate, especially a team captain in quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
“I love George. I think that’s how every Steeler fan and player felt after the game, right?” Heyward said regarding Pickens, according to video via the NFL on ESPN YouTube page. “We just really did not seize upon those opportunities. The youngness in George comes out, and you’re just like, ‘man, you can’t show all the emotion out there.’
“It happens with receivers if you miss a pass or something, but we grow from it. We learn from it. We can’t live in a vacuum. Can’t think about just the bad plays. …It’s good to get this frustration out, and hopefully we can switch it around,” Heyward added. “…I can’t speak for a receiver always, but every receiver thinks they’re open. If you talk to any receiver, they are always open. …I love George, I love the way he plays. We gotta turn those into Ws, we gotta turn those into catches. I’m sure he and Mitch [Trubisky] have talked about it.”
Pickens had already raised some eyebrows earlier in the season regarding some comments through the media regarding his play, stating that he was open “90% of the time” through the first two weeks ahead of the game against Cleveland, adding that even if he’s covered he’s open.
Turns out, even when he was covered against Cleveland, he was open as he made the absurd one-handed catch with a cornerback in stride with him. Later in the game though, Pickens couldn’t make a play that nearly resulted in an interception, and had wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson all over him on the sideline during the review.
Prior to that, Pickens had some outbursts on the field when the ball didn’t come his way when he was open, which drew some attention on social media.
Having a passionate player, especially at the receiver position, is nothing new. But, you don’t want to show up teammates and have to know when to control your emotions as a player, as Heyward stated. The Steelers don’t have any issues internally, but the frustrations from Pickens is understandable, especially after he had a dominant training camp and preseason and his potential appeared through the roof heading into the regular season.