PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – It’s about executing. It’s a refrain we heard over-and-over again this week from the Steelers describing their disappointing offense. They spent the week analyzing what went wrong and are confident it will be better than last week, not that it was a high bar.
Tight end Pat Freiermuth said they’ve had a good week of practice, as did others including Kenny Pickett. Freiermuth and tackle Chukwuma Okorafor are likely to play even though they were limited by injuries this week. Diontae Johnson is another story. The team’s leading receiver the last three years is out Sunday and likely for a few weeks.
“Diontae brings a lot to the table, everybody knows that,” said receiver Gunner Olszewski, directly behind Johnson on the depth chart. “Him being out we have to come together and make some plays.”
“It will be tough,” Freiermuth said. “We will get together as a receiver group, as a tight end group and make up for the lost production.”
“Everyone's got to step up and pick it up,” Pickett said. “It can't just be one guy. But you know, I had a ton of reps with everybody. So, I'm confident they'll go out there and execute.”
Guard James Daniels said there was a mix of stuff that went wrong against the Niners, a missed block here, missed assignment there. They know they need to correct it, he believes it’s correctable. Najee Harris believes in the game plan, said it’s about them executing including converting on weighty downs.
“I think establishing the run would be pretty good,” Harris added. “We couldn’t do that last game because of how things turned out.”
In order to see that, the game plan would have to change as well. Only nine called running plays. Yes, down and distance plays into that, but there also has to be a commitment.
“The biggest thing is staying on schedule and running the ball,” said tailback Jaylen Warren. “We got to establish the run game and establish it early. That’s the big thing this week.”
“We're going to tweak things here and there that we might see, but the bottom line is we just --a play here or there and it's a different game,” said Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada. “Again, that game got away so fast, and it's completely because we went the way we did at the start. But if that's not the case. We didn't get to run the plays we wanted to run, do the things we wanted to do by our own fault, and we own that, and we're looking forward to playing better and getting to see that work and the things that the guys have done and giving that a chance to work.”
“Just anything, to be honest, I just want to establish some offense,” Daniels said. “If that’s run or pass, this week we just want to get rhythm going and have good and sustained drives.”
“We know the kind of group that we have, it’s about staying to the details,” said receiver Allen Robinson. “Going out there and executing and communicating properly. I know the group that we have. It’s about us going out there, correcting the things we need to correct.”
They do that with a quarterback that got all kinds of love, in part due to his perfect performance in the preseason. A week in, Pickett is rated behind Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder and rookie Anthony Richardson among others.
“Everything we've done through the spring, through the summer, I don't have any doubts or concerns it's going to be better,” Canada said. “How much
better, I'm not making any kind of big bold predictions, but we didn't play like we've played or practiced. We've got to be better and we will be.”
“Last year there were points in the season where we were terrible,” Daniels said. “How he showed up after the last game before the bye week when we got blown out by Philadelphia. How he responded after the bye week last year shows me he’s capable of leading this offense and leading this team to where we want to be.”
“Confidence in myself, the team, the guys around me,” Pickett said. “You know, I know everyone's going to answer the bell. We're going to come out and
play on Monday. So, love the energy we have around here. Everyone's putting their best foot forward this week. So, it's just about going out there Monday night, competing and winning.”
“Last week didn’t go like we planned,” Olszewski said. “We got behind, so that’s why we stopped running the ball. We have a good game plan and we will do what we do and play Steeler football.”
They believe they can do that with Pickett.