Steelers Mike Tomlin on Kenny Pickett: 'I expect him to kill it' in year two
By Tommy Jaggi
Kenny Pickett turned plenty of heads down the stretch during his rookie season. After a rough start that included a whopping 8 interceptions in his first 5 appearances, the Steelers rookie quarterback righted the ship and led his team to a 7-2 record down the stretch including game two game-winning touchdown drives against the Raiders and Ravens.
Despite his progress, Pickett still has plenty of work to do as a passer. His yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt were near the bottom of the league, and his offense had a difficult time converting in the red zone. However, Mike Tomlin is anything but concerned.
Recently, the Steelers head coach joined The Rich Eisen Show to discuss topics, including his new 2023 draft class. However, he also spent some time talking about Kenny Pickett. When asked what he expects from Pickett in year two, Tomlin insists that he expects him to 'kill it'. Here's what he had to say:
""You know, I expect him to kill it. I'll describe what I mean by that. It's his second lap around the track. He's no longer speculating in terms of what this business is about, what this job demands, what the challenges are, what the feel of the process is like -- whether it's getting ready for a season or getting ready for a week. He has all of that experience, and so I just think it's reasonable for him to have significant growth in all areas... I'm just looking for him to take a significant step in all areas..."- Mike Tomlin on The Rich Eisen Show
Tomlin couldn't find enough good things to say about his young quarterback. In addition to talking about the year of experience and challenges already under his belt, Tomlin is convinced that Pickett has the right attitude and mentality to lead this team.
""Aside from those things, he loves it, he's a gym rat, he likes to work, he's communicative. He just has all of the intangible things that you would expect from a guy at that position, but really at any position to take a step from year one to year two.""- Mike Tomlin on The Rich Eisen Show
Tomlin exuberates with confidence when it comes to his young quarterback, and his expectations are very high. But are they reasonable? What should we expect from Kenny Pickett in year two?
What to expect from Steelers QB Kenny Pickett in year two
Obviously, the head coach is never going to be too hard on his young quarterback when speaking about him on a podcast. We know that Mike Tomlin sees the flaws in Pickett and the areas that he needs to improve. So what are some reasonable expectations for Pickett in 2023?
For starters, I think we can expect Pickett to take better care of the football than he did when he was first forced into action last season. Though there were clearly a few interceptions that weren't his fault, Pickett is going to learn when to let it fly and when to live to fight another down. We already saw this over the second half of the season when he threw just one interception.
Additionally, we can expect Pickett to be more consistent on intermediate throws. We really need to see that dismal 5.5 adjusted yards per attempt number go up, and even with Matt Canada calling the plays, I think we will see a big improvement in his department.
Mike Tomlin is right when it comes to Kenny Pickett's football mentality. Let's hope the head coach's confidence in his young quarterback is a great sign of things to come in year two and beyond.