Kenny Pickett is the face of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise, until he’s not. Increasingly, it’s feeling as though the not is going to come a lot sooner than the team would like—a decade or two sooner. 22 starts into his career, he is not looking like a starter. And even he isn’t sure what they need to do to get better.
Asked what was lacking from his game during his post-game press conference yesterday, Pickett cited consistency while crediting the Cleveland Browns. “They’re a great defense. Hat’s off to them first, but we didn’t play, and I didn’t play, nearly as well enough”, he said, via the team’s website.
But when followed up about what needs to happen to get things turned around—in the first question, the reporters said that it doesn’t look like him out there—he didn’t know what to say. “That’s a great question. We have to get in and find out”.
But it’s hard to believe there is a great answer when the question has been lingering for months. There has been no improvement in his second season, at all. He started to show a bit of progress, but if anything, right now he looks worse than he did in the second half of last season. And so does their offense, regardless of how good Cleveland’s defense might be.
“We came up with a good plan. We thought it was a good plan. You’ve just got to execute”, he said. “I thought our o-line did a great job. I was trying to get the ball out as quickly as I could. We tried to keep them off-balance with some draws and some screens, but they’re a good front”.
It’s all getting just a bit hard to stomach. You can say “Screw you” when you’re winning games, but when you look like the exact same team when you’re losing, you start to realize those wins might not mean much outside of the standings. That is, they are not indicative of the actual quality of the team.
If Pickett is right that they really do come up with good game plans, then that speaks ill of his ability to execute them. Chances are both the chicken and the egg are at fault, but the one needs to do more with the other, whichever Pickett is.
Really, his response to that question about what they need to do is becoming widespread. Many players are beginning to express some level of exasperation, if not defeatism, about simply how bad they are regardless of whether or not they manage to win.
Specifically, it’s more often the passing game that is at fault in recent weeks, because they have been running the ball well on the whole. Plays that are there to be made are not being made. Other times, plays that should be there simply aren’t. And even when everything else works out, you get numerous miscommunications leading to unforced errors, giving away free downs. The question of what’s wrong with Pickett and this offense is a great one. The process of fixing what’s wrong might be even greater.