If Friday evening’s recreation in opposition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is any indication, second-year gamers Kenny Pickett and George Pickens are choosing up proper the place they left off for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Over Pickett’s remaining 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 guy rookie large receiver.
In restricted motion on Friday evening in Pittsburgh’s first preseason recreation, 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 remaining, breaking by a sort out try after which making the security miss in area for the catch-and-run landing:
Diving into the play a bit of deeper, you see spectacular development 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 sector, and an beneath “gap” defender, linebacker Ok.J. Britt. Pickens runs an in-breaking route from the precise.
As you possibly can 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 large receiver Allen Robinson, operating a route out of the slot. Pickett even has his shoulders and toes aiming in that course. All of this tells Britt that the throw is coming to Robinson, and the linebacker slides in that course.
However simply as Pickett finishes his drop, he snaps his eyes and toes in direction of Pickens, and makes an on-time, in-rhythm throw with pristine accuracy.
Now we are able to discuss Pickens. For the majority of his rookie season, Pickens was utilized as a vertical receiver, doing most of his work outdoors 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 possibly can see, the vast majority of his targets got here on routes outdoors the numbers. However on this play, you see Pickens working the center of the sector, and his quarterback hitting him in stride for a giant play.
Pickett completed the evening hitting on 6-of-7 passes for 70 yards and the landing. This was PIckens’ sole catch, however it was definitely a giant one.
The AFC North could possibly be a buzzsaw of a division, with all 4 groups having expertise on each side of the soccer. However Steelers followers can take solace in performs like this, as a result of if their sophomore duo has a giant 12 months, Pittsburgh might shock in one of many NFL’s hardest divisions.