Kenny Pickett still has a lot to prove, but here’s why the Pittsburgh Steelers have found a quarterback who will lead them to their next Super Bowl win.
It was a rough start to the new campaign for Mike Tomlin’s squad. An off-season riddled with change resulted in a new phase for the franchise. The days of watching Ben Roethlisberger work magic were over, and the Steelers needed a gunslinger to compete. After an impressive rookie season, is it too early to predict Kenny Pickett’s odds of becoming a future Superbowl quarterback?
The AFC North is home to four of the most competitive franchises in all of football. Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Joe Burrow are some of the latest acquisitions that added a new level of intensity to the division. Since 2002, the Pittsburgh Steelers have maintained a reputation as the best franchise among the four. Their nine divisional titles exemplify their dominance and set expectations high for new members getting acclimated to the winning climate.
The Steelers found their replacement quarterbacks at the right time
It took a while for the Steelers to decide which quarterback they believed gave the franchise the best shot at winning. A free agent signing in the off-season brought Mitchell Trubisky to Pittsburgh. A few months later, the franchise used its twentieth overall pick to draft Kenny Pickett – a top prospect in the 2022 class. The six-foot-three-inch former Pitt Panther was the only quarterback selected in the first round. His role was unknown, but the value of the draft selection solidified the Steelers’ intentions.
Grooming both quarterbacks required patience and timing. A 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals led fans to believe that Mitchell Trubisky would serve as the team’s starter for the duration of the season. He finished his first game as a Steelers with 194 passing yards, a touchdown, and no turnovers.
Four consecutive losses followed Pittsburgh’s first win of the season – making it hard for fans to find faith in the rebuilding process. Matt Canada’s offense struggled – adding additional pressure to the defensive unit. A decision to make a quarterback adjustment came in Week 7. Mike Tomlin inserted Pickett into the starting lineup against a hot Miami Dolphins defense. No.8 had an impressive outing. His 257 yards passing were noteworthy, but his three interceptions blemished his stat line. A following match-up against the Philadelphia Eagles did not make the transition to the pros easier.
A 35-13 loss taught Pittsburgh’s rookie enough about perseverance to continue the season. His teammates believed in his abilities, which convinced the coaching staff to keep him as the starting quarterback. His development throughout the last ten weeks is impressive and could be the payoff Pittsburgh’s front office believed they would receive when they invested their twentieth overall pick.
Steelers would not be in playoff contention scansion without Kenny Pickett
With one week left in the regular season, the Steelers are competing for entrance into the playoffs – almost as if they never missed a form in previous seasons. Yes, this season came with growing pains, but the important questions about this football team were answered within the last few weeks. Kenny Pickett’s stat line doesn’t jump off the page, but his leadership has taken the Steelers from pretenders to contenders. No.8 ranks twenty-first in completion percentage (64.4) and twenty-second in quarterback rating (49.9).
Reaching the playoffs will be huge for Pickett’s confidence as he continues to develop as an elite quarterback in the NFL. His leadership qualities and skillset turned the Steelers’ season around when most believed the franchise was heading toward a rough rebuild. A win against the Cleveland Browns could catapult the Steelers into the seventh seed in the AFC conference. Pittsburgh would also need the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins to lose in their respective matchups – two highly likely outcomes.
A Pittsburgh playoff berth will help No.8 develop as the future of the Steelers. His late game-winning drives against the Baltimore Ravens and the Las Vegas Raiders provided enough evidence that he is the gunslinger of the future. If the Steelers make a deep playoff run in the post-season, the accolades will be extra for the quarterback who won his first professional starting job and saved the 2022 Steelers season.