As Steelers Depot’s very own Alex Kozora mapped out this morning, QB Kenny Pickett hasn’t been what we thought we were getting out of the young quarterback in his second NFL season. As Kozora mentioned in his piece, Pickett had the worst completion percentage of a Steelers quarterback with at least 30 attempts in a win since Kent Graham in 2000 against Cleveland last night. He completed 15-of-30 pass attempts for 222 yards, one touchdown, and one pick in the Steelers’ 26-22 win. He looked shaky throughout the game just like last week against San Francisco. Forcing passes into coverage that he shouldn’t throw, he also missed open receivers with inaccurate passes.
Mike Tomlin was asked about his starting quarterback and his performance through two games during his weekly press conference Tuesday. Tomlin acknowledged that Pickett needs to start performing better in stadiums, but also said that he’s doing the work behind the scenes to elicit that improvement.
“I just wanna see him continue to work in the manner in which he’s been working, continue to communicate in the manner in which he’s been communicating, and lead his group,” Tomlin told the media via video from the Steelers’ YouTube channel. “He’s done a lot of things well in preparation. Performance, he could play better. We all could play better, but procedurally, I like what I see from him. And usually when a guy procedurally is in the right spot, the performance soon follows.”
Tomlin made a similar comment last week about Pickett following his poor performance against San Francisco. He said that Pickett is fully committed to the process and that his work and preparation will eventually lead to dividends in performance on the field. That may be the case, but Pickett did struggle with all the same issues he had Week One after looking untouchable in preseason play. Granted, Pickett was facing top-tier defenses with virtually no running game to help him, but a lot of the mistakes he is making are errors you’d expect to see out of a rookie quarterback, not one with the experience Pickett now has in his second season.
Pickett is Pittsburgh’s lone offensive captain. He is the leader and Pittsburgh’s hopeful long-term franchise quarterback to usher in a new era of dominant championship-caliber football post-Ben Roethlisberger. It’s time for Pickett to start playing like it now in his second season. He went through the growing pains last year. He got an improved offensive line and receivers this offseason. Sure, he may still have Matt Canada as his offensive coordinator, but Canada doesn’t dictate Pickett underthrowing receivers or making bad reads, throwing the ball to the opposite team. With the Las Vegas Raiders on deck, Pickett will have his chance to get going against a defense that has a few studs but isn’t to the caliber of the two units he has faced.