Yahoo Sports’ Matt Harmon and Dalton Del Don explain why Pittsburgh fans should be excited about Kenny Pickett, Najee Harris, George Pickens and the rest of the offense.
MATT HARMON: I want to talk about the Steelers that– they have somehow in this mess of a year, a year– what were they, like, 2 and– 2 and 6, 2 and 8 at one point? I mean, they looked like they were DOA, did the Pittsburgh Steelers. They still have a chance to make the postseason. 19% chance to make the postseason according to 538, and I think if you squint at it– and, honestly, I don’t even think– I, actually– I take it back. I don’t even think you need to squint at it.
I think if you just look at what Kenny Pickett’s done in the last two games in end game situations, the way that Najee Harris, who looked like at one point, he was going to be the worst pick in fantasy has sort of returned his season to normalcy, and they also have, like, a capable sidekick in Jaylen Warren. We know the receivers are good. I think if they change the offensive coordinator and they have– I mean, they have to get a different offensive coordinator here. They can’t have Kenny Pickett running this goofball offense another year.
I think there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic for the future of the Pittsburgh Steelers right now.
ANDY BEHRENS: Yeah, it starts with what you just said, which is not having Matt Canada attached to this team next year because like on the one hand, you want to give Mike Tomlin a lot of credit for holding all this together and sort of guiding this. It’s almost like a controlled crash landing of a season for that team every year. But, I mean, how do you not also put the OC– like, that goes on Mike Tomlin’s account too.
And this offense has just been a brutal watch. With reference to Najee Harris, we do have to remember that part of his story all season was the foot injury in the preseason that, obviously, carried into the regular season, right? And he was– he’s just visibly not been the same guy that he was last year.
And I think a lot of that was playing through injury, which is, as we’ve discussed at various points, that gets a guy– guys earn a lot of credit within a locker room for that, and they take a lot of heat from fans and from fantasy players, and from everyone else when they play through an injury and they are not at their normal capacity and not functioning as they normally would.
So it’s nice to see Najee finish the season really strong. I will note that it was another game in which George Pickens made a highlight catch and saw only four targets. I’m completely sick of that. I don’t understand why every catch that George Pickens makes has to be like a degree of difficulty. Oh, my God, did you see that, sort of play.
I would like to see an offensive coordinator come into this team and say, hey, let’s get him some easy stuff too, and let’s make sure that he is involved in every quarter of a football game, instead of only periodically when we absolutely positively- –
MATT HARMON: It’d be nice if he–
ANDY BEHRENS: –need to gain 20 yards.
MATT HARMON: –was running a normal amount of go routes. Instead of just–
ANDY BEHRENS: Yes.
MATT HARMON: –I mean, it’s him and Diontae Johnson both, like, it’s just hitches and go routes, hitches and deep outs. It’s the– I’ve said it a lot. It’s the worst designed offense in the NFL, comfortably.
ANDY BEHRENS: It really is.
MATT HARMON: There are other bad offenses out there, but I’m talking about like what you walk into game day with, what you walk into Sunday or Thursday or Monday or whatever. It’s the worst. It’s the worst designed and put together unit, especially–
ANDY BEHRENS: That’s a good way to put it. It’s like they come into games with a plan to get themselves to like 18 points if they max out, right? There’s just no–
MATT HARMON: Oh, yeah.
ANDY BEHRENS: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I like the way you frame it.
MATT HARMON: And Pickett deserves a lot– I think Pickett still could be better working in rhythm. I think he could still be better about certain parts of it, but you could criticize and poke holes and pick nits at every rookie quarterback, but what he’s given them off schedule, off script, of course, the offense comes alive when they get off the stupid script, right? Because the script sucks. So the improv acting is much better than whatever the writer’s room has come up with here for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But, yeah, I do think Mike Tomlin deserves an absurd amount of credit for getting this team, this group into this moment. I think– look, Tomlin’s, obviously, not perfect as a coach and nobody is, but he certainly likes from a cultural perspective and what he brings from a player development standpoint is really– is great to see. So I think it’s a credit to the Steelers and–