Are Steelers protecting QB Kenny Pickett by not starting him vs Jets?

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Many Steelers fans are ready for a change at quarterback, but here’s why Mike Tomlin might have Kenny Pickett’s best interests in mind by not starting him vs the Jets.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have updated their Week 4 depth chart ahead of Sunday’s game against the New York Jets. There were some changes made. Montravius Adams was promoted as the starting nose tackle, while the 35-year-old Tyson Alualu takes a backseat. Likewise, Isaiahh Loudermilk boosted up as Cameron Heyward’s primary backup. However, the change most Steelers fans wanted to see is not coming this week.

To the dismay of many fans, Mitch Trubisky will be the Steelers starting quarterback this Sunday when Pittsburgh hosts the New York Jets in what will prove to be a must-win game for both squads. After losing two straight games, Mike Tomlin’s team cannot afford to drop this winnable game against a struggling opponent.

Many thought that this would be the perfect time to make the switch to the rookie quarterback. I have voiced this as well. After playing on Thursday Night Football, the Steelers had 10 days to prepare to get the Jets at home. This would have been ample time for Kenny Pickett to study the game film and get comfortable with his weapons. However, that won’t be the case.

If the change didn’t come here, I have predicted that it won’t happen now until Pittsburgh’s Week 9 bye. But is Mike Tomlin trying to save Pickett from a potentially disastrous start to his NFL career?

Steelers could be trying to protect Pickett by not starting him

With the way this offense has looked in the first three weeks and the dismal passing concepts Matt Canada has rolled out, it’s hard to envision Kenny Pickett suddenly taking this offense from one of the worst in the league to even an average unit. Yes, Mitch Trubisky is certainly partially responsible for the lack of production as well, but this game plan is incredibly poor.

To give you an idea of just how bad it is, the Steelers entire wide receiver corps has combined for just 25 yards after the catch entering Week 4 — dead last in the league by a mile. Canada’s plays are designed to avoid the middle of the field and target the boundaries. This leaves no room for the receivers to help out their quarterback.

Even if Canada’s offense was performing respectably, the Steelers might want to think twice before deploying Kenny Pickett. Though Pittsburgh does get a favorable matchup against the Jets at home this week, they might have the hardest four-game stretch in the NFL coming up. After the Jets, the Steelers will play the Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Eagles in consecutive weeks — three of these contests coming on the road.

This is an absolutely brutal stretch, and there probably won’t be an expert out there who will predict them to win a game before the Week 9 bye if it doesn’t come against the Jets this week.

The Steelers cannot start Pickett in Week 4 only to turn around and bench him before they travel to Buffalo in Week 5. These types of moves are demoralizing to young quarterbacks. Once they make the switch to Pickett, they need to roll with him. Starting 1-4 or 0-5 to begin his career could really shatter his confidence — especially if Matt Canada is handicapping him at the same time.

Trending. Steelers WR yards after the catch is the most concerning stat in football. light

As much as anyone, I would really like to see Kenny Pickett out there on the field as soon as possible, but the second half of Pittsburgh’s schedule gets much more manageable. Perhaps the team is trying to protect their franchise quarterback by not starting him before this unforgiving stretch of games coming up.