Kenny Pickett is now the franchise quarterback for the Steelers. In doing so, he tries to fill the shoes of Big Ben Roethlisberger, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history.
Despite a few injuries in his rookie seasons, Pickett played well down the stretch, nearly carrying them into the playoffs, and had the Dolphins not won their final game of the season, the Steelers could have made the playoffs. Hence a little heartbreak as his dynamic playing abilities kept Mike Tomlin's stretch of non-losing seasons intact.
Steelers fans will hope that over his career, he can be as great as Big Ben and eventually earn the gold jacket when his career is over. However, he has a long way to go before we have that conversation. If and when we get to the point of discussing which Steelers quarterback was better, Bradshaw, Roethlisberger, or Kenny Pickett, much of that will depend on what kind of stats he puts up over his career.
Considering Terry Bradshaw played in a much different era and for a coach who built his team around the running game. Plus, the NFL played shorter seasons, expanding from 14 games to 16 games in 1978. While credited for 13 seasons, Bradshaw injured his elbow eight games into 1982 and missed the rest of the season.
Needing additional time to recover from his injury Chuck Noll rushed him back despite the fact he missed the first 14 weeks of the season. Needing to beat the Jets to get into the playoffs, Chuck Noll named him the starter. Five completions, 77 yards, and two touchdowns later, Bradshaw re-injured the same elbow, and his career was over.
Needless to say, given the difference in eras, Roethlisberger obliterated most of Bradshaw’s passing records. He eclipsed Bradshaw's 27,989 passing yards in only eight seasons, then played another 10 after that. Hence when we discuss whose better at the end of Pickett’s career, it will be his ability to measure up to Roethlisberger’s passing stats as the standard. However, there is one additional statistic: the number of championship rings on your finger, Bradshaw’s only metric Big Ben couldn’t surpass.