Joe Starkey: Nobody is expecting '40-point games' from Steelers, but offense better bust out now

Joe Starkey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Football


That would be my advice to the Steelers offense, and it's not an unreasonable ask. It's not a demand to recreate that perfect preseason. This is a football town; people know preseason football can be deceiving. It's not even a demand for scoring explosions every week.

It's just a rational, history-based request for a second-year quarterback and his offense to make a large leap. By which I'm pretty sure most of us mean fielding a competent, professional and even semi-explosive offense. And if we don't get it this week against a wretched Las Vegas Raiders defense that is allowing an NFL-high 81.1% completion rate and lots of big runs, we might never.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett seemed a little off the mark in his meeting with reporters Wednesday, not unlike a lot of his throws this season.

"Everybody wants those 40-point games," Pickett said.

Not really. I mean, sure, everybody wants them — but exactly nobody is demanding them. I'm pretty sure they'd settle for a 24-point game. They'd throw a ticker-tape parade for 30. Shoot, they'd welcome a first down in the first quarter, an improvement from minus-7 to minus-6 yards in the fourth quarter and somebody other than the two edge rushers leading the team in touchdowns.


"I don't know how many times I'm going to give you the same answer," Pickett told his inquisitors. "That is the message: This isn't an easy game. You're playing good defenses."

Well, it is the NFL. Defenses are good. If you want bad defenses, go back to the ACC. The Steelers drafted Pickett to beat good defenses. I'd much rather be hearing things like this from the other team. Like, say, a Browns player after the Steelers put 27 on them saying, "Hey, the Steelers have a pretty good offense and a really good young quarterback. Don't forget about that."

Hopefully, Pickett noticed that the 49ers defense, after throttling him and everybody else on Matt Canada's crew, went out and got torched for 17 first-half points and 386 total yards against the short-handed Los Angeles Rams.

Canada's offense has exceeded that total (barely) twice in 37 games


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