The Steelers rookie QB has struggled, and the team needs to keep their options open regarding what to do with him long-term.
The Steelers brought Kenny Pickett in halfway through the Jets game, and since then the fans have seemingly been split on him. While he has provided some sense of a spark for the offense, he has yet to get a win and has been very mistake prone to this point in his career. With things not looking great for the team, options must be kept open heading into the offseason.
The Steelers have issues that run far deeper than Pickett, but he certainly isn’t helping matters that much. I do believe that he gives the team the best chance to win right now, but that honestly shouldn’t be the reason you continue to start him going forward.
The Steelers need to keep Pickett as the starter
The moment the franchise moved forward with Pickett as their guy, there wasn’t any looking back for this team. Taken in the first round, he is perceived as the future of this franchise. Benching him in favor of Mitchell Trubisky is pointless. Even if Trubisky is more conservative and could lead to more wins. This team is in no position to compete this year.
That means you can stomach a rookie with growing pains starting. Will it lead to a more unpredictable and at times frustrating offense? Yes, but with Matt Canada at the helm, the offense isn’t going to see a lot of improvements this year. He will take his lumps, and this team will struggle, but long term this is clearly the best move.
This doesn’t mean Pickett should secure anything past this season
While I will sit here and argue that Pickett should be the guy moving forward no matter what, that isn’t because I am sold on him as the future of this franchise. Sure, he has some positive traits, but I think there is a lot lacking in his game overall. I want him to take the rest of his rookie season to prove that he can overcome those.
His decision-making and ability to progress through reads have been mediocre at best, and his aggressiveness has cost this team some points and some wins. I also think a lot of the fanbase is overcompensating for him. Has every interception been purely his fault? No, they never are, but seven interceptions over essentially three games with only two touchdowns to show is bad.
In a season that is essentially a wash, I’m not concerned with the personal stats of Pickett, I just want to see improvement. If he is getting cleaner with the football and developing down the stretch, then this early string of poor passes won’t be as big of a deal. If he remains stagnant or regresses, then a different conversation needs to happen.
Could the Steelers look elsewhere at QB in 2023?
This is why Pickett needs to continue to be the starter. I don’t care what the Steelers final record is at this point, nor do I care what his stats look like. Pickett is a 24-year-old rookie; his ceiling for development isn’t as long as other quarterbacks. If he struggles to make any real progress forward, that should be a huge red flag for this team.
At this rate, the Steelers will be in a rare position to pick toward the top of the draft. The upcoming class is filled with talented quarterbacks. It would go against the grain of what this team typically does, but if they want to maximize the stars that they currently have, landing a top-tier quarterback is essential.
If Pickett fails to move the needle during his rookie season and make some strides, a different quarterback can and should be on the table. I’m all for giving a rookie time to develop, but Pickett is on the older side of things. He needs to show those traits now given his age.
No, this doesn’t mean I think Pickett is a bust yet. The two things you should take away from this are that Pickett needs to start the rest of the year no matter what, and his position on the team next year should directly stem from his ability to progress or not. His leash can’t be long, as this team can’t afford to wait on him to develop over multiple seasons.