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Fact or Fiction for the Steelers Following Week 3’s Painful Loss

Jared Wickerham / Pittsburgh Steelers

Fact or Fiction for the Steelers Following Week 3’s Painful Loss

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reeling. Following Week 3’s ugly loss to the Cleveland Browns, there are growing murmurs of starting Kenny Pickett and calls to fire offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. With all the uncertainty surrounding the team and the future, let’s bust some myths and tell some truths for the 2022 Steelers.

Steelers Defense Preps for Bengals

The Steelers’ Larry Ogunjobi (#99), T.J. Watt (#90), and Devin Bush (#55) get ready for a tough matchup against the Bengals. (Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers)

 

The Steelers Defense Will be Okay Without T.J. Watt

Fiction.

Following the Week 3 defeat, the Steelers are now 0-6 without T.J. Watt. The defense gives up roughly five more points per game to opposing offenses (25.8), and the defense averages about two fewer sacks per game (1.6). The reigning 2021 AP Defensive Player of the Year has the ability to wreck games and without him on the field, opposing offenses no longer have to worry about shifting protection to Watt’s side. With Watt on the field, the difference is night and day. The Steelers are 52-24-2 with him on the field.

Additionally, the unit is giving up 428 yards rushing through three games and 756 passing yards per game, both bottom five in the league, per NFL.com.

Watt doesn’t account for everything the defense does, but the numbers speak for themselves. The Steelers are just a different team with him on the field.

 

The Steelers Need to Start Kenny Pickett NOW

Fiction.

steelers, 2022, expectations, Kenny Pickett

PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 28: Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during the game against the Detroit Lions at Acrisure Stadium on August 28, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

I’ve been stressing this for the past several months, the Steelers cannot afford to mortgage their future by rushing Kenny Pickett onto the field, especially behind a subpar offensive line and questionable play-calling from OC, Matt Canada. We now know that the dink-and-dunk style of play during Ben Roethlisberger’s final years was not because of the future Hall of Famer; rather, they were Canada’s schemes.

If you start Pickett now, the above problems still exist and the defense isn’t getting off the field. Head coach, Mike Tomlin spoke to the media following Thursday night’s loss and bluntly shot down any speculation of Pickett starting or any personnel changes:

“I’m not in that mindset. I’m interested in reviewing the tape and looking at the totality of it and figuring out how we collectively get better. The answer to that question is definitively no.”

It’s unlike Coach Tomlin to make such a drastic change during the season given his conservative style throughout the years. If changes were to happen, they may come later in the year, specifically in Week 9 during their bye week.

 

The Steelers Need to Get George Pickens More Involved in the Offense

Fact.

Steelers George Pickens

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, George Pickens (#14) during a game at Acrisure Stadium on Sept. 18, 2022, against the New England Patriots. | Arron Anastasia / Pittsburgh Steelers

In case you were living under a rock, rookie wide receiver, George Pickens, made the catch of the year, and perhaps, the catch of the decade on Thursday night.

Throughout the week, there were talks from Mitch Trubisky to get Pickens more involved in the offense. The message was received. On Thursday, Pickens was targeted seven times and logged 39 yards receiving, which are both more than Week 1 and Week 2 combined. The explosiveness and athleticism of Pickens is for real and the Steelers would be remiss if they didn’t adjust the game plan moving forward to get him consistently involved.

 

Najee Harris is Good, But Should We See More of Jaylen Warren?

Fact.

Steelers Jaylen Warren

Pittsburgh Steelers running back, Jaylen Warren (30) during a regular season game against the Cleveland Browns on Thurs., Sept. 22 at FirstEnergy Stadium Cleveland, OH. (Abigail/Pittsburgh Steelers)

If you take away Warren’s fumble, one could argue that he looked as good, if not, better than Harris.  Warren was especially effective in the no-huddle offense. Through three games this year, Warren has been statistically better than Harris in yards before contact (YBC) and yards after contact (YAC).

This is a trip down memory lane for Harris as last year he averaged a measly 1.7 which put him in the bottom six of qualified running backs. Adding Harris’ injury issues, it would absolutely make sense to feature more of Warren to keep him healthy. If Warren can solve his fumbling issues, this could become a dangerous one-two punch for the Steelers this season.

 

Coach Tomlin Will Have His First Losing Season

Fact.

Mike Tomlin, hot seat, 2022

CLEVELAND, OHIO – OCTOBER 31: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches from the sidelines during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 31, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Steelers defeated the Browns 15-10. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

All good things must come to an end, right? After 15 straight glorious years of never finishing below .500, Coach Tomlin will experience his first, and worst season thus far. It’s a tough pill for Steeler Nation to swallow, but if you look at the statistics on both sides of the ball, it’s unfavorable to the team’s chances of securing a winning record, particularly with a brutal stretch of games coming up for the Steelers (Jets, @Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins, @Eagles). By midseason, we could be looking at a 2-7 team.

 

What do yinz think of the season so far? What needs to change? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Robert

    September 25, 2022 at 12:37 am

    Matt Canada s plays

  2. Pingback: If Chuck Noll Were Still Alive, He'd Tell Steelers HC Mike Tomlin "Don't Let Anybody Piss In Your Pool" - SteelerNation.com

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