In 2004, Bill Cowher and the Pittsburgh Steelers turned away from #8 to go to #7. In 2022, Cowher believes they should return with #8. Though it’s an opinion shared by every Steelers’ fan who doesn’t have the last name Trubisky, Cowher told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac QB Kenny Pickett should be the Steelers’ starter the rest of the way.
“At this point, I’d stick with Kenny Pickett,” Cowher told Dulac.
Pickett saw his first regular season action in the second half of Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, replacing Mitch Trubisky after halftime. He went 10/13 for 120 yards, no passing touchdowns, and three interceptions and a pair of rushing scores – the first QB to ever had two of them in his first appearance – putting up an awfully unique box score. Unfortunately, his debut didn’t come in a win, the Steelers blowing a 20-10 fourth quarter lead to fall to 1-3 on the year.
While three interceptions is a crooked-looking number, Pickett did something this offense struggled to do all season: produce. The offense put up two touchdowns with Pickett in the game, benefitting from outstanding field position following Minkah Fitzpatrick’s INT that put Pittsburgh in goal-to-go. But Pickett still took them over the goal line on a QB sneak to give the Steelers a lead. They added to it early in the fourth quarter as Pickett ran a 12-play, 82-yard drive, capped off by Pickett’s second rushing score of the day on an option play.
As reflected by those on the field, Cowher said Pickett’s play provided the offense a boost of energy they desperately needed.
“He came in and you felt the energy. You felt there was something there.”
Cowher dealt with a similar situation in 2004. Tommy Maddox was injured in the second week, with Roethlisberger replacing him in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, a game in which Roethlisberger threw two picks in a loss. But Roethlisberger remained the Steelers’ quarterback the rest of the season, not losing again on the backs of a strong run game and elite defense. Pittsburgh won’t have those circumstances this time around and is likely to have a far bumpier season than ’04.
After the game, Mike Tomlin declined to commit to a Week 5 starter. He’s far more likely to announce that decision during his Tuesday press conference. It would be an upset if Pickett wasn’t named the starter for the Buffalo Bills game this weekend. He’s the best option for the team in the present and the future, and it’s time for the Steelers to find out if they have their next franchise quarterback.