The Pittsburgh Steelers benched Mitch Trubisky for Kenny Pickett during the Jets game. Here’s why there’s no going back from this decision.
Since the 2022 season kicked off, the biggest question on the minds of fans was: when will we see Kenny Pickett in action for the first time? That question was answered in Week 4. After Mitch Trubisky led his offense to just 6 first-half points, Mike Tomlin turned to rookie Pickett to lead his team in the second half.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately fell short of victory despite a 10-point lead in the second half, Pickett certainly seemed to have offered a spark that was previously missing. He not only energized the crowd, but it seemed like his teammates got an added fire as well.
After the loss against the Jets, coach Tomlin spoke on why he made the change, according to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor:
"“We just thought we needed a spark. We didn’t do much in the first half, not enough offensively, and thought he could provide a spark for us. I’m not going to talk extended as we sit here. We did what we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win this game. We’ll do it again. But I like to just keep it where we are in terms of what transpired here today. We’ll deal with next week, next week.”"
Kenny Pickett certainly wasn’t perfect in his first game, but his 3-interception performance wasn’t nearly as bad as the box score indicated. There was actually a lot to like about this game.
Pickett seemed much more willing to drive the ball over the middle of the field. As a result, he was awarded with 9.2 yards per attempt. Trubisky has only been able to earn 9 or more yards per attempt in a game one time since 2018. Additionally, Pickett had a nose for the endzone with two rushing scores that got the crowd pumped up.
Steelers cannot go back to Trubisky
Barring an injury to Kenny Pickett, the Pittsburgh Steelers cannot go back to Mitch Trubisky under any other circumstance. This probably goes without saying, but let me hammer out this point and why it’s so important to stick with the rookie from here on out.
I have gone on record many times in the past saying that once you put your first-round quarterback into the game, there’s no reverting back. The primary reason for this has to do with confidence.
If Pickett were to go through a rough patch and struggle on the field, the team simply needs to weather the storm and take their lumps. After all, Pickett was drafted to be the face of the franchise — a quarterback who can (hopefully) one day lead this team to a Super Bowl victory. Benching Pickett would be completely demoralizing and could shatter his confidence early in his career.
No matter how badly he could prove to struggle against a brutal upcoming schedule, the team simply cannot bench him for anything short of an injury. It’s because of this, that I could have seen Mike Tomlin waiting until the bye week to deploy Pickett. By then, the schedule gets a bit more manageable.
At this point, we just have to hope that Kenny Pickett is up to the challenge and rises to the occasion. The rookie quarterback still has a lot of work to do, but knowing that the team cannot bench him at this point and revert back to Mitch Trubisky, we just need to hope for a smooth transition to the NFL stage.