Steelers QB report card: Pickett does just enough to win
Steelers QB Kenny Pickett had a solid performance against the Falcons. Here is how it could have been even better.
The Steelers defeated the Falcons 19-16 on Sunday, hanging on after nearly giving up a 16-6 halftime lead. The offense continued their recent trend of strong first halves and mediocre second halves. Kenny Pickett did just enough to win, improving his record to 4-4 as a starter. There are still plenty of things to improve upon, but Pickett continues to improve every week. Here is how he fared against the Falcons.
Steelers Pickett continues an upward trajectory
Kenny Pickett had another mediocre outing from a statistical standpoint, finishing 16 of 28 for 197 yards and a touchdown. Much of that production came in the first half: something that has been a consistent issue the last few games.
Over the past three games, the Steelers have scored 73 total points. 52 of those were scored in the first half. The offense has still been much better overall during that stretch, but the Steelers are lucky to be 2-1 in those games.
Pickett has been limited by the conservative playcalling of Matt Canada more than anything else. With leads going into halftime in each of the last three games, Canada has routinely taken the ball out of Kenny’s hands and tried to lean on the running game.
That’s fine if you can sustain drives, but they have struggled in that department. Pickett has made strides despite the roadblocks that have been placed in front of him, but he still has a way to go.
Kenny Pickett is still too conservative
The Steelers offense is already pretty conservative by nature, but Pickett still falls into the trap of trying to prioritize being efficient instead of making plays. Let me be clear: being efficient at QB is a good thing. The problem is that it had rarely led to points for the Steelers offense. Pickett is completing 65% of his passes but is averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt, last among players with over 200 pass attempts.
Being efficient at the expense of big plays isn’t the way to play offense in the modern NFL. Pickett has flashed the ability to push the ball downfield, but he needs to look for opportunities to do it more often down the stretch of the season. The Steelers have a soft remaining schedule, so this could be Pickett’s chance to create momentum going into next season. I certainly am hoping for some more explosive plays moving forward.