If you’re wondering why we are spending so much time talking about Kenny Pickett lately, then perhaps you haven’t been paying attention, or understand what the role of the quarterback is within the game of football. It’s kind of a big deal.
After all, the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had a quarterback controversy in 18 years, so this is new to those who cover the team—new to the team itself. Ben Roethlisberger was that steady presence. They drafted Pickett because they think he can be the next guy in line, at least on a long-term basis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is the very next guy to start a game.
Many expect that very next guy to be Mitch Trubisky, while others debate that it’s still up in the air. Head coach Mike Tomlin has suggested that it’s not a decision that is already fixed in place, but Pickett is not buying into the idea that it is all based on Sunday’s outcome.
“It definitely does not come down to one game”, Pickett told reporters yesterday, via Jeff Hathhorn of 93.7 The Fan, an answer to a question about Sunday’s game that was mysteriously trimmed from the video of the locker room interview the team posted on their website and social media platforms.
“I think it’s over a period of work the last month that we’ve been grinding it out”, he added, discussing what goes into determining the starting quarterback role. “I want to put my best foot forward, play as hard as I can like I always do and let the chips fall where they may”.
Now, aside from the question of who the starting quarterback is going to be on September 11, the other outstanding question right now is just when each chip is going to be put on the table this Sunday. Trubisky says that he expects to start, and has expressed hope of playing an extended period of time—perhaps a half.
If that is the case, then how much is Pickett going to play? Is he going to play the second half? Is that why Tomlin gave Mason Rudolph all of the second half last week? I can’t imagine that Pickett is under serious consideration to start the regular season if he doesn’t play at least a half, to be honest.
And of course he is right to say that it “does not come down to one game”, at least not exclusively. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t hypothetically be the tipping point, or the tiebreaker. By and large, Trubisky and Pickett have both had a positive offseason, and shown traits the coaches were hoping to see.
Pickett has had more success in-stadium, and some of that was within the two quarterbacks’ control, some not. But what happens if Pickett really stands out against the Detroit Lions? What if Tomlin just gets that, ‘Okay, that’s my quarterback’ look? We all know he’s going to start at some point. It’s just a matter of when.