Steelers News

Bucs HC Bowles Praises Steelers Rookie QB Kenny Pickett: ‘He’s Accurate, He’s Extremely Smart, He Can Get Out Of The Pocket’

The Pittsburgh Steelers have looked overmatched in every game this season, excepting the performance of the defense with outside linebacker T.J. Watt healthy in the opener. Today’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers doesn’t obviously promise to offer much different, but what is promised is not always what is given.

That’s why they play the games, after all, and young players can develop quickly. The Steelers have a rookie quarterback making just his second start. He has learned a lot in his first 90 minutes of meaningful NFL action, and even the Buccaneers know that means something, just based on what they’ve already seen from first-round pick Kenny Pickett.

“He’s accurate, he’s extremely smart, he can get out of the pocket on the run”, Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles told reporters on Friday, adding that “he can throw on the run, he can throw in the pocket, he knows where his checkdowns are and we think he’s doing a good job getting the ball out of his hands”.

The Steelers put Pickett into the starting lineup at halftime in Week 4 against the New York Jets, and he helped rally them to two touchdowns, taking a fourth-quarter lead that the defense was unable to hold. His offense, however, only scored three points last week in his debut start.

That was certainly not entirely due to his performance, though he had issues of his own. But he did move the ball, throwing for over 320 yards himself. The Steelers gained at least 45 yards on more than half of their drives, six in all. They had seven such drives in the three-plus games Trubisky started.

While Pickett is still learning and growing, Bowles’ observations are not simply the standard fare bloviating glorification of an upcoming opponent typical of a head coach before a game. We do see accuracy, pocket mobility, throwing on the run, and similar elements in his game at this stage.

And of course those were the sorts of things that the Steelers scouted in him that encouraged them to draft him 20th overall in April—the only quarterback taken in the entirety of the first two rounds, even if he wasn’t the first rookie quarterback to record a win this season.

We need more from Pickett, of course, but this is an offense that needs more out of everybody—and not just from those on the field, or even on the sidelines. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada is deservedly under fire from the outside on a weekly basis, the inevitable result of his unit’s Sunday showings.

Until that improves, assuming that it ever does, that isn’t going to stop. Pickett is his best hope, so he’d better hope that Bowles is right, and then some.

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