The Pittsburgh Steelers are finding ways to win football games, but a majority of the fanbase realizes that it's not because of Kenny Pickett. If anything, they seem to be emerging victorious in spite of his unspectacular play. After rewatching Pittsburgh's Week 10 game against the Green Bay Packers, this was glaringly obvious.
Despite an offensive line that protected Pickett beautifully and a rushing attack that aided the offense greatly with 205 yards and a pair of scores on the ground, the second-year quarterback didn't really do anything to aid his team. Pickett finished the game against the Packers completing 14 of 23 passes for 126 yards (5.5 yards per attempt) and a 75.6 passer rating, per ESPN stats.
These raw numbers are cringeworthy, but Pickett is actually fortunate that things didn't look even worse on paper. The second-year quarterback made a trio of ill-advised throws against Green Bay that each could have been intercepted. One was even ruled a pick on the field before being overturned.
Even with an offense designed to limit risks, Pickett doesn't seem to be operating effectively. Now we've reached the point where his numbers are reaching a new low. During his rookie season, Pickett posted a QBR (Quarterback Rating) of 53.6 on the season, per Pro Football Reference. This year, that number has plummeted to just 36.3 through the first 9 games of 2023.
This isn't the only thing that is concerning. Pickett now has fewer passing yards per game (179.6) and a lower completion percentage (61.3 percent) than he did as a rookie. The collection of poor statistics and underwhelming film should be enough for Mike Tomlin to crack down on his quarterback. Apparently, it's not.
During his Week 11 press conference, Mike Tomlin noted that Pickett 'certainly' needs to improve, but he more or less brushed the QB's struggles aside, saying, 'Guys like he and I are measured by wins and losses.' Here's what Tomlin had to say regarding Pickett's performance.
"“Certainly. We’re gonna need more, particularly as this road narrows, but guys like Kenny and myself, we’re measured by wins and losses. He and I talk about that often and openly. We know what our jobs are. Our jobs are to win. And so that’s where we are, that’s where our focus is. I love the fact that he embraces that.”"- Mike Tomlin via press conference
Mike Tomlin needs to understand that he has a Kenny Pickett problem
It would be incredibly naive of Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers to continue on without looking for ways to maximize Kenny Pickett's potential. The route that we've seen this year is as bizarre as any you will see in the NFL.
The Steelers have been outgained in terms of yardage in every single game they have suited up for in 2023. No team has ever managed to do this and have a winning record at this point in the season. Not only has Pittsburgh accomplished this feat, but, miraculously, they are three games above .500 entering Week 11.
Tomlin can't continue to rely on his defense to take the ball away or make clutch plays in crucial moments of the game. What happens when they aren't able to do that? In order to keep winning this way, the stars have to align. It takes a combination of factors all working in Pittsburgh's favor to emerge victorious: the offense can't turn the ball over, the defense wins the takeaway battle, and the defense makes a clutch stop late in the game.
This philosophy of winning simply isn't sustainable -- maybe even for the rest of the regular season (and certainly not in the postseason). With the Steelers scoring just 15.5 offensive points per game (and allowing 20.2 per contest to their opponents), it's time to hold Kenny Pickett accountable. Pittsburgh has a Pickett problem and Mike Tomlin needs to make every effort to try to fix it before it's too late.