Recent headlines prove Kenny Pickett’s worth as Steelers franchise QB

Steelers, Kenny Pickett
Steelers, Kenny Pickett / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

The Steelers hype train has been firing on all cylinders ever since the offseason began, and one of the faces of such an optimistic movement has been young quarterback Kenny Pickett.

After Pittsburgh’s faith in veteran Mitch Trubisky led to an unsettling start to its 2022-23 campaign, Pickett found himself on an ascending hill of offensive playtime. By halfway through the season, he was the undisputed starting QB.

However, I would not say that he truly stitched himself into the hearts of either the franchise or the fans until his final three games. Entering Week 16, Pickett and the Steelers were staring a 6-8 record in the face and had nothing but hated rivals—Las Vegas, Baltimore, and Cleveland—on the horizon.

To make matters worse, Pickett had been sidelined with a concussion that made him miss the previous week's matchup against Carolina, leaving his ability to bounce back something else to keep an eye on. Luckily for yinzers, none of that was anything to worry about for long.

Pittsburgh went on to prevail in all three of those rivalry games, with Pickett averaging just over 200 passing yards and a touchdown for each one.

The victories clinched the Steelers a winning record (with a non-losing one in divisional play) and had them knocking on the door of the playoffs. While failing to control their own destiny did end up costing them a spot in the AFC bracket, the powerful note on which they ended the season still made quite an impact on the city’s morale—and endorsements of the Kenny Pickett era skyrocketed in the process.

Today, everyone who reps the black and yellow loves them some Pickett, and he has been accepted as Ben Roethlisberger’s successor to what feels like a unanimous degree. He is yet to put that strong of a spell on outsiders, though.

On Monday, Still Curtain’s own Andrew Falce covered a discussion topic brought up by Dan Graziano of ESPN. In his article, Graziano questioned if Pickett was a safe bet for the long-term job of leading an elite passing offense in Pittsburgh. In response to that, Falce himself was adamant that he is also not convinced Pickett is fit for the task, citing flaws in his performances that many fans have seemingly chosen to ignore.

When combining those kinds of concerns with social media disagreements that are never beyond popping up in NFL groups, there appears to be a fair amount of the jury still out on Pickett’s ceiling—but I am not one of those people. In fact, recent discussions surrounding the young quarterback have me in his corner now more than ever before.

How has Kenny Pickett impressed Steelers fans this time?

Pickett’s appeal as a franchise QB not only stems from the playmaking potential he’s shown on the field but also from the strong leadership qualities he’s shown off of it.

While the latter has been visible on a multitude of occasions in the past, some of the latest news involving Pickett takes things to a whole other level. It’s done so by showing just how hard he’s worked to maintain control of his constantly changing offense, along with his aim to keep all pieces of it on the same page.

Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III, who is also entering his sophomore season in the league, spoke to reporters on what he’s learned about Pickett so far. Two slices of his praise have been especially making the rounds: “He’s going to make sure you’re on your A game…you got to either be at his level or get left behind.”

I know I don’t speak for everyone, but if that doesn’t sound exactly like what someone would say about Tom Brady, I don’t know what does.

Speaking of NFL legends, another boost in my assuredness comes from Pickett’s take on comments from the aforementioned Ben Roethlisberger.

On the Steelers icon’s podcast Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger, he confessed to initially hoping that Pickett “doesn’t come and ball out.” While it could be hurtful to hear a man that you have likely looked up to for years say something like that, Pickett needed no time to take it on the chin.

In response to the shocking remarks, Pickett simply applauded Ben’s honesty before mentioning that he’s happy to move forward with a guy like him now being in his corner. In other words, Pickett made what I feel was the best statement possible.

When approaching a subject matter as awkward as that one, it can be difficult to display the perfect mixture of confidence, humility, and, above all else, the maturity that people want to see. However, Pickett nailed it beautifully—and trust me, no one can appreciate a sight like that more than a Steelers fan.

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From his early success to his admirable image, Kenny Pickett is an embodiment of all that it takes to be a franchise quarterback. He may not be to a point where his mad skills are silencing all doubters (he just finished his rookie season, how could he be?), but I’ve already seen enough to declare that I’m in his corner just as much as Ben is.