Through two weeks, the leash on Mitchell Trubisky appears to be getting shorter, and the patience of Steelers receivers is running thin.
At least, that’s how rookie receiver George Pickens sees it. After starring in the preseason, the first-year pass catcher from Georgia has caught two passes for 26 yards in his first two NFL contests. He believes it’s not a matter of failing to execute, but a lack of chances to make a difference, telling reporters this week he was open “90 percent of the time” in Pittsburgh’s Week 2 loss to New England.
“I just say that because I’m a big guy that runs in the low 4.4s,” Pickens said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I always have a step on somebody and my step is naturally longer than the other person, and I’m actually fast. I’m always (going to) have a step and always feel like, 99 percent of the time, I’m open even though the ball gets there in the air and (the defender) gets time to catch back up. … But I’m open as soon as I get off the line.”
Pittsburgh has scored 27 offensive points through two games, and Trubisky has tossed two touchdown passes. Both have come from less than 10 yards out. Trubisky’s passing line after two weeks is far from remarkable: 42-of-71, 362 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 76.2 passer rating.
Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield spent Wednesday lamenting his lack of productivity with a statistical output that mirrors that of Trubisky. Simply, the proof has not been good enough for the pudding.
Pickens appears to be growing tired of a lack of opportunities presented by Trubisky’s decisions and offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s play-calling. The Steelers have heard him loud and clear, with Trubisky admitting “I can take shots downfield” earlier, adding “I think I could look for 14 (Pickens) more often.”
Canada echoed Trubisky’s desire to go to Pickens more than the Steelers have through two weeks.
“I’d love to get George more involved,” Canada said. “Those who have been at practice and at camp know how talented he is.”
Talent has not equated to production, at least not to this point. The Steelers have an excellent chance to right the ship Thursday night when they travel to Cleveland to face the Browns, whose defense has been completely disorganized through two games, ranking 25th in passing defense and allowing Joe Flacco to light them up to the tune of 307 yards and four touchdowns last week. While the Steelers have been forced to answer questions about their lagging offense, the Browns have spent the week avoiding assigning blame for their repeated defensive miscues.
The Steelers will hope the Browns continue to struggle to get it together defensively. On a short week, it’s their best opportunity to this point to get their offense on track.
For Pickens, he hopes this is the week that starts it all for him and Trubisky.
“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.”
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