Category: NFL

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George Pickens craves the spotlight

Apparently a large portion of Steelers Nation hasn’t been paying attention.

When George Pickens speaks, he expects his faithful followers to listen. After all, he makes his wishes well known with his words and actions, both on and off the field.

George Pickens wants more targets. Forget that, he wants all the targets. Who can forget the poster child of diva receivers, Keyshawn Johnson. The title of his autobiography said it all; Just Give Me the Damn Ball. I suspect that Pickens has fully embraced that statement as his mantra.

Pickens’ body language suggests that he wholeheartedly believes that he is perpetually open. Even when he has a press corner plastered all over him, with a safety sitting over the top, like happened in a late season game last year. After QB Mason Rudolph threw a short completion to the other side of the field, Pickens appeared frustrated that he wasn’t the target. He made an upward motion with his hand towards Rudolph as he was trotting back to the huddle, as if to suggest that Rudolph should have thrown the ball high into double coverage. Pickens firmly believes he will come down with every contested opportunity.

I firmly believe that is a trait shared by the vast majority of athletically gifted big play wide receivers. A level of self confidence that mere mortals will never understand. That quality is critical to their elite level capabilities. However, it can become an issue when it is accompanied by diva behavior.

All Steelers fans can recognize the type of behavior that I am talking about. Regrettably, because we have witnessed far too much diva tendencies over the past decade. Jealousy, temper tantrums, extreme pouting, locker room confrontations, and half hearted efforts. Shoot, Antonio Brown didn’t even show up for a game prior to forcing his way out of town. Lest we forget, Brown was one of the highest paid receivers in the game when all that went down. Imagine how bad the situation would have been if he was playing for his first big NFL payday.

That is the situation facing George Pickens and the Steelers this season. I don’t think some fans fully comprehend the magnitude of the situation. Pickens is an sensational talent, who currently lacks the maturity and self control of an elite receiver. If Pickens can harness that part of his personality, the Steelers could have a Top 5 WR on their hands. The Steelers must give Pickens every opportunity to reach his full potential, or forever wonder what might have been. That effort begins in earnest this season.

The first two seasons of Pickens’ career have been incredibly frustrating to say the least, both for the player and the franchise. Pickens has been hopelessly trapped in an atrocious offense, lead by a clueless offensive coordinator, and subpar QB play. In his defense, a great deal of Pickens’ frustration thus far in his Steelers career has been warranted and totally understandable.

The Steelers front office fully recognized this dilemma. Omar Khan and company completely revamped the QB depth chart this offseason. The Steelers also brought in a proven offensive coordinator in Arthur Smith. They also utilized the draft predominantly to make serious upgrades to their offensive line. The pieces appear to be in place for the Steelers to become a heavy rushing attack, ball control offense. Which fits perfectly with Arthur Smith’s reputation.

That’s where the Pickens’ situation get tricky. Smith utilizes more 12 personnel packages than the Steelers faithful are accustomed to. Many fans are clamoring for the Steelers to acquire another high level WR2. They wholeheartedly believe that will put the Steelers offense over the top, making them instant championship contenders. However, that is inconsistent with Smith’s previous work history.

The WR1 gets the vast majority of the targets in Smith’s scheme. Usually slightly more than the next three receivers on the depth chart combined. The truth is this: Pickens is going to blossom as the WR1 in this offense, or his inevitable diva behavior will result in his exodus from the Steel City.

If you are struggling to comprehend what I am talking about, you obviously haven’t been paying attention. I suggest you simply follow the spotlight to learn more.

It’s now or never for George Pickens and the Pittsburgh Steelers.


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