The New York Jets have officially benched QB Zach Wilson. This decision won’t have any bearing on how long of a leash the Pittsburgh Steelers give Kenny Pickett.
In a somewhat surprising move, the New York Jets have benched quarterback Zach Wilson, ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed Wednesday morning. After being the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the young quarterback already appears to have fallen out of favor with the team that drafted him just a year and a half ago.
Despite the significant draft capital spent to acquire him in 2021, head coach Robert Saleh didn’t hesitate to pull the plug on an experiment that clearly wasn’t working. In his second season, Wilson was statistically the worst quarterback when throwing under pressure.
It’s not often that you see a 23-year-old former first-round quarterback get benched this early in his NFL career — especially when his team still has a 6-4 record. However, Saleh decided he had seen enough after a 3-point showing against the Patriots. It didn’t help that Wilson wasn’t willing to fall on the sword and take the blame in his post-game press conference.
This brash decision has to have Pittsburgh Steelers fans wondering about the future and longevity of quarterback, Kenny Pickett. While some would be quick to toss him to the curb, others understand that developing a quarterback takes time — even a 24-year-old rookie with five years of college experience.
Pickett will have longer to prove himself with Steelers
Don’t let the Jets’ decision to bench Zach Wilson make you believe that Kenny Pickett will be on a remarkably short leash. During his tenure as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin has made it abundantly clear that he does not care how other organizations operate (and it’s not like the New York Jets have had a lot of success during that time).
In today’s rapidly-changing game and the way that contracts work, quarterbacks have been given a much shorter window to prove themselves than ever before. But how long will Pickett have before the Steelers decide they have seen enough?
Regardless of what Tomlin might lead the media to believe, Pittsburgh is going to give Pickett plenty of time to prove whether or not he is the franchise QB of this team. May I remind you that this is the same team that was willing to start Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns for three years because of their significant draft investment?
In other words, no, Pickett won’t be getting benched halfway through his second season like Wilson just did. History suggests that Pittsburgh’s rookie quarterback will be given at least three seasons before the team decides to move on.
By then, it’s very possible that Pickett figures things out — at least well enough to hold down the fort until a better option comes along. Obviously, we are all hoping he proves to be the answer, but the standard is so high for QBs in today’s NFL that nothing is guaranteed.
Zach Wilson’s recent benching shouldn’t have you nervous that the Steelers are going to give up on Kenny Pickett if he has a really bad game over even a poor stretch of games to close out the 2022 season. They are going to give him a fair shot to show improvement, and I think they do everything in their power to make it work.