‘I Just Don’t Think That We Utilize Our Weapons On The Outside Enough’: Big Ben Begs Steelers To Open Up Passing Game
In Sunday’s 13-10 road loss to the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett set a new low in passing yards in a game that he started and finished (106), cracking the century mark in passing yards on the final play from scrimmage in a desperation hook-and-ladder attempt. This performance comes on the heels of Pickett throwing for 126 yards and zero scores against the Green Bay Packers a week ago. He failed to make any notable plays in the passing game as the running game got going early and the defense held on late, powering Pittsburgh to a 23-19 win against the Packers.
Following the Browns game, former Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger gave his takeaways, including one key thing that the Steelers must do to get their playmakers more involved in the passing game.
“I just don’t think that we utilize our weapons on the outside enough,” Roethlisberger said on Footbahlin, which aired live during the game on YouTube. “From Pat [Freiermuth] to Naj [Harris] to George [Pickens]… Diontae [Johnson]. I just don’t think that we utilize those guys enough. So, and I know people will say ‘How do you utilize them when you can’t protect?’ We have to remember that this was a really good defense that we played today.”
The Browns’ defense is one of the NFL’s best units, ranking first in the league in total yards allowed and first in passing yards allowed heading into today’s matchup. Their blend of a vaunted defensive front, led by EDGE Myles Garrett, coupled with a stingy secondary, led by Denzel Ward, make them a difficult defense to throw on, regardless of who the quarterback is.
Still, throwing for 106 yards isn’t going to get the job done, especially when your own defense holds Cleveland to 13 points and RB Jaylen Warren has a career day with 145 total yards on 12 touches. Pickett got sacked three times in the contest and was pressured on plenty of other pass attempts, suggesting that the offensive line must play better to give its quarterback more time in the pocket to make plays down the field.
Regardless, Pickett must play better, as he appeared off for most of the game. He routinely missed receivers with high or low passes, looking rattled by the pressure. He wasn’t able to get anything down over the middle of the field or down the sideline, having just four passes go for more than 10 yards in the dispiriting loss.
For the offensive weapons in the passing game to get more involved, Pickett has to be better at stringing together a full performance. We have seen both Johnson and Pickens be capable of posting 100-yard receiving games while guys like Pat, Calvin Austin III, and Allen Robinson II have proven that they can produce as well when given the opportunity. It’s a matter of Pickett getting his guys the ball, which he still needs to prove he can do at a consistent rate, for this passing game to command some respect from opposing defenses. Until then, we’ll see Pittsburgh’s weapons on the outside continue to underwhelm as the Steelers try to get their offense going down the stretch.