Kenny Pickett just isn’t there yet, but some signs are encouraging
The Steelers fell to the Bengals in Week 11. Kenny Pickett showed both the good and the bad, but there’s reason to believe things will improve.
It’s safe to say that my prediction didn’t come to fruition against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11. Of course, I would have never guessed the Pittsburgh Steelers would surrender 37 points to Ja’Marr Chase-less offense on their own turf in a must-win game.
This 37-30 loss was a crushing blow to the Steelers and the game wasn’t as close as the score indicated. As has been the case this year, there are plenty of negatives to take away from this game, but for the first time all season, we are finally learning some things about Kenny Pickett.
Sadly, not all of what we are learning is encouraging. On more than one occasion, Pickett airmailed the ball over his intended receiver or threw behind his target. His decision-making was also questioned during the Bengals game as he seemed to have missed some easy reads in favor of more difficult throws in coverage.
With a final stat line of 25/42 for 265 yards and a touchdown, according to ESPN stats, Pickett’s performance leaves a lot to be desired on the surface — and rightfully so. It’s clear that the rookie still has a lot of learning to do.
In the second half, Pickett was particularly bad. After leading the offense to 20 first-half points (their best offensive stretch of the season), the Steelers managed Just 10 points in the final two quarters — 7 of which came when the game was essentially out of reach.
Pickett is still way too high-variance and he needs to do a better job at sustaining drives and coming away with points. However, we did see some encouraging signs from the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback in the Week 11 loss.
Kenny Pickett sparked Steelers offense and showed some promising traits
Regardless of what some homers will try to tell you, Kenny Pickett does not have a rocket arm. But that doesn’t mean the rookie can’t sling the ball effectively down the field. This was on full display on Pittsburgh’s final drive of the game where he dropped a dime over two defenders to George Pickens (but the pass was dropped).
While he needs to improve in his accuracy and ability to read the defense, Pickett’s niche that could ultimately set him apart from the pack is his ability to extend the play.
Admittedly, Pickett does bail from the pocket too quickly at times. However, many of his best plays came when eluding the first defender, keeping his eyes down the field, and throwing on the run. His ability to do this isn’t a trait that all quarterbacks possess, but it’s easy to see how this could be an asset for Pittsburgh in the future.
Clearly, there is still plenty of work to be done in this department (and all around, really), but it’s certainly encouraging to see him make a few splash plays in this contest.
Hopefully soon, we can see these plays come more consistently and when the game has more meaning in the closing minutes. Pickett was extremely up and down against the Bengals, but I do think this was the most encouraging game of his career to date.
Now sitting on a 3-7 record, the Pittsburgh Steelers may not have a lot to play for moving forward, and they could soon be eliminated from playoff contention. However, fans will be watching closely to see if the quarterback can put it all together down the stretch and become the player this franchise needs. Even with his bad plays against the Bengals, I do think this game was a step in the right direction for the rookie QB.