There are going to be a lot of Kenny Pickett apologists out there. I get it. This young man has a connection with the city of Pittsburgh and he's a likeable guy. I also understand that he entered into some rough circumstances with the Steelers -- including an incompetent offensive coordinator and talent issues along the offensive line.
Despite all of this, we can't let Pickett off the hook with his play over his first year and a half in the NFL. To put it simply, the results have not been up to snuff. While Picket has found a way to win football games (which is obviously important), this has often been despite the QB play; not because of it.
When you look at the collection of his stats over his first 20 career games, it's hard to make a case that this is 'the standard' that the Steelers are looking for at the position. Has it been good enough? You be the judge. Here are his career numbers, per Pro Football Reference.
In Pickett's first 20 games (19 starts), the Steelers QB has earned just 12 passing touchdowns compared to 13 interceptions. He also has a cringeworthy adjusted yards per attempt number of just 5.8 and a career passer rating of 78.0.
When it comes to EPA this year, Pickett is 31st in the NFL -- only narrowly topping the underwhelming Zach Wilson. If you recall, Wilson was already benched by this point in his second NFL season, and the team was ready to move on. Unfortunately for them, they were forced to turn back to Wilson after Aaron Rodgers ruptured his Achilles early in Week 1.
Steelers need to start planning for a future without Kenny Pickett
Nobody wants to think this way. It's far easier to sit back and naively believe that Pickett is going to turn things around eventually and that he'll be good enough to be the franchise quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I genuinely don't believe this will be the case.
From a statistical standpoint, Pickett doesn't have much of anything going for him. Among NFL quarterbacks with at least 500 pass attempts to begin their careers, Pickett is really bad company among all NFL quarterbacks who have 13 passing touchdowns or less. In fact, his name is number one when sorted by this stat -- earning just 12 touchdowns on his first 589 pass attempts, per Stathead.com.
Just behind him on the list are players like Jack Trudeau, Chris Weinke, David Carr, Zach Wilson, and Ryan Leaf. This isn't exactly the company you'd like to be in. While this isn't to say that his career path can't improve, it's feeling less likely that it will now that we have already seen a 20-game sample size from the Steelers quarterback.
It's not like Pickett ever had amazing traits to work with anyway. He was a player who had some red flags coming into the NFL thanks to his historically small hands and only one good season in five years at Pitt. Pickett also isn't known for having a big arm or elite accuracy either.
Right now, all of the evidence suggests that Pickett is a very replaceable quarterback and that the Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to start searching for his eventual replacement. If he continues at this pedestrian rate, the team needs to start planning for a future without him at the helm.
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