If Friday night time’s sport in opposition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is any indication, second-year gamers Kenny Pickett and George Pickens are selecting up proper the place they left off for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Over Pickett’s last eight begins final season for the Steelers — six of which Pittsburgh received to place themselves into the playoff race — the rookie quarterback threw 5 landing passes, in opposition to only one interception. Of these 5 touchdowns, three went to Pickens, the man rookie huge receiver.
In restricted motion on Friday night time in Pittsburgh’s first preseason sport, it didn’t take lengthy for the 2 to attach once more.
Going through a Third-and-8 on the Tampa Bay 33-yard line, Pickett dropped into the pocket and hit Pickens on an in-breaking route within the coronary heart of the protection. From there, the receiver did the remainder, breaking by way of a deal with try after which making the protection miss in house for the catch-and-run landing:
Diving into the play a little bit deeper, you see spectacular progress from each second-year gamers. We will begin with the sophomore passer, and to spotlight what we see from Pickett on this play, we flip to the end-zone replay:
The Buccaneers are in Cowl-1, which is single-high man protection with a free security in the course of the sphere, and an beneath “gap” defender, linebacker Ok.J. Britt. Pickens runs an in-breaking route from the fitting.
As you’ll be able to see on the end-zone angle, Pickett makes use of his eyes and his full physique to maneuver Britt, and create a throwing lane. Because the quarterback executes his drop, he appears to be like to his left — Britt’s proper — and veteran huge receiver Allen Robinson, operating a route out of the slot. Pickett even has his shoulders and ft aiming in that route. All of this tells Britt that the throw is coming to Robinson, and the linebacker slides in that route.
However simply as Pickett finishes his drop, he snaps his eyes and ft in the direction of Pickens, and makes an on-time, in-rhythm throw with pristine accuracy.
Now we will speak about Pickens. For the majority of his rookie season, Pickens was utilized as a vertical receiver, doing most of his work exterior the numbers. Take this chart from Subsequent Gen Stats, displaying his route chart in opposition to the Miami Dolphins in Week 7 final season:
One other instance is that this chart from Week 18 in opposition to the Cleveland Browns:
As you’ll be able to see, nearly all of his targets got here on routes exterior the numbers. However on this play, you see Pickens working the center of the sphere, and his quarterback hitting him in stride for an enormous play.
Pickett completed the night time hitting on 6-of-7 passes for 70 yards and the landing. This was PIckens’ sole catch, however it was actually an enormous one.
The AFC North might be a buzzsaw of a division, with all 4 groups having expertise on either side of the soccer. However Steelers followers can take solace in performs like this, as a result of if their sophomore duo has an enormous yr, Pittsburgh may shock in one of many NFL’s hardest divisions.