The NFL Rookie of the Year award is a coveted honor. Representing offense, Cincinnati Bengals phenom Ja’Marr Chase won it in 2021. New York Giants‘ Odell Beckham Jr. was the last receiver in 2014. You have to go back to 2004 and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to find the last time a Pittsburgh Steelers player was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
George Pickens, the darling of the Steelers’ offseason, was the preseason projection to win Rookie of the Year. The hype surrounding him was real. But, nearly three weeks through the season, Pickens isn’t even in the conversation.
There are a lot of mouths to feed in Pittsburgh: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, Najee Harris. But the cupboard doesn’t have any foit, and it could be a while until payday. The Steelers rarely gett rookies involved offensively; Mike Tomlin typically eases them in. But he’s done it before. Claypool was involved early and often as a rookie in 2020. He was a big part of the offense and had an outstanding year. Leaving a talent like Pickens out of the equation is baffling.
But when you can’t get your ball to your established playmakers, you can’t expect the new guy to get it. With 26 yards on two catches, what was supposed to be a big year for Pickens has started on a low note.
Mike Nicastro, host of The Chris Wormley & Friends Show, opined that George Pickens is not a fan of Mitch Trubisky.
Maybe he’s not, but Pickens has been cordial with his quarterback. After all, it’s hard to lay blame on Trubisky when nothing is working. Pickens won’t get a piece of the pie if the oven is on the fritz. Trubisky only does what the playbook dictates, as he doesn’t have the freedom to call plays as Ben Roethlisberger did.
Simply put, the Pittsburgh Steelers are an offensive disaster right now. And getting Pickens more involved should be the least of their worries.
Mitch Trubisky to George Pickens
Like all young receivers, George Pickens wants to get the ball and make plays. But he also knows it’s a process and, as he told TribLive’s Joe Rutter, he hasn’t earned the right to demand anything.
“It’s not really a big thing to me because it’s my first year,” Pickens said. “It’s how Coach T said it, there are just a lot more games to be played. You can’t define it by one game.”
“I’m new, and he’s a new quarterback,” Pickens said. “I just go by my day, run my right route. The good thing about football is you have another play, another drive. I take it one play at a time. If I get the ball, it’s cool. If I don’t, it’s cool because you’re not going to get the ball every time.”
Trubisky knows the kind of talent he has in George Pickens. It’s just a matter of everything coming together.
“We have a lot of talent, but we definitely have to get George more involved,” Trubisky said in a postgame press conference. “We’ve just got to get on the same page. I think there was one where I threw it out of bounds. He was going one way, and I thought he was going the other way. We’ve got to get George involved. He’s super talented.”
“I think I could look for 14 more often. George is doing a great job for us. I’ve just got to get these playmakers the football. Whatever we’re out there running, I’ve just got to get them the ball. It really comes down to me making better decisions, being aggressive, and putting ourselves in that position.”
As for Tomlin’s stance on Pickens: “We’ll keep working,” he said sharply in his Sept. 19 press conference.