Vast disparity in offensive coaching staff
Another distinguishing factor is the coaching disparity between the two young quarterbacks. The Steelers retained an offensive coordinator who is arguably one of the worst in NFL history in Matt Canada. His scheme and play-calling have fallen short of league standards. On the other hand, the Texans hired Bobby Slowik, who previously served as the passing game coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers.
This offensive system was designed to assist their quarterbacks and place them in scenarios conducive to their development. The two offenses are worlds apart in structure and coaching capabilities. Slowik has created an offense that plays to CJ Stroud's strengths, focusing on the quarterback's growth, while the Steelers have developed an offense lacking a clear identity, making it challenging for any player to succeed, not just the quarterback.
Moreover, the Texans made substantial investments to bolster their offense even before drafting CJ Stroud. They extended key players along the offensive line, such as Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, and Shaq Mason. They also used draft capital to acquire players at the center and wide receiver positions and made trades to add depth pieces that perfectly fit their system.
This strategic investment allowed them to provide the necessary support for a young quarterback's success. In contrast, the Steelers attempted to patchwork an offensive line going into Kenny Pickett's rookie year, and it's still clearly not enough. Going into Pickett's 2nd year, the Steelers added pieces like Isaac Seumalo and drafted Broderick Jones to bolster the offensive line, but didn't utilize many additional resources. The Steelers' efforts paled in comparison to the Texans, who went to great lengths to acquire talent that could help their quarterback.
These differences between the two situations make it clear why the two young quarterbacks look significantly different, and fans and critics need to consider these factors before jumping to conclusions about Kenny Pickett's future as the Steelers' starting quarterback.
Kenny Pickett's stats do show struggles, but it's vital to contextualize them. The circumstances these two young quarterbacks find themselves in couldn't be more different. The Texans have created a staff and scheme that is innovative and effective for a young QB to excel.
In contrast, the Steelers have limited Kenny Pickett's growth by keeping a coordinator who doesn't offer any upside. The Steelers' offense heavily relies on Pickett not turning the ball over and playing nearly flawlessly without taking risks. They struggle to run the ball, block effectively, and create opportunities for easy yardage. Given these circumstances, it's no surprise that these two quarterbacks appear significantly different.
However, it's also crucial to acknowledge that C.J. Stroud was drafted much higher for a reason, which naturally leads to a substantial difference in their skill sets. It's time for fans and critics of Kenny Pickett to consider a few key points before passing judgment on his future as the Steelers' starting quarterback.