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‘Chess, Not Checkers’ For Pickett Facing Eagles, Tomlin Says

Kenny Pickett is coming off a rough outing last Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 first-round selection threw three interceptions and only one touchdown, with two of the picks coming at the end of the game as he was trying to lead the Steelers on a game-winning drive. 

Pickett will try to bounce back this week against a Philadelphia Eagles team with two top-tier cornerbacks. Darius Slay and James Bradberry both bring big play ability and veteran leadership, which makes them hard to beat. Both Slay and Bradberry have more passes defended (seven and nine) than any Pittsburgh Steeler. They will make it very difficult for Kenny Pickett to complete passes tomorrow afternoon. 

Today, on The Mike Tomlin Show, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin discussed how Pickett can beat the challenges both Slay and Bradberry bring to the table.

“It’s gonna be chess, not checkers from a strategy standpoint. But we can assist him with a lot of that, with how we deploy schematics and work to minimize their [Eagles secondary] experience in terms of some of the match up related.”

While football is a very talent-driven and violent game, it is also the sport in the “Big Four” North American sports where coaching matters the most. For example, two weeks ago the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had much more talent on the football field than the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Mike Tomlin out-coached Todd Bowles, which played a huge part in the Steelers beating the Bucs. 

This week, after a rough outing from Pickett, Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Matt Canada need to make sure they put Kenny Pickett in positions where he can succeed against the Eagles’ secondary. 

However, it is not all on the coaching staff. Pickett needs to be more careful with the football or the Eagles’ ballhawk defense will take advantage. So far on the season, Philadelphia already has nine interceptions, and will be looking to add more to that total tomorrow against a quarterback who has already thrown seven. 

Kenny Pickett is an aggressive quarterback by nature, but he also has to be smart. His two interceptions at the end of the Miami game were due to poor decision-making. Pickett is a rookie and growing pains are expected, but what is also very important is seeing Kenny Pickett learn from his mistakes. He cannot be making the same mistakes over and over again.

Pickett has the talent to succeed at this level, but right now he needs to be a bit smarter and the coaching staff needs to put him in positions to succeed. These two things will certainly be tested tomorrow. 

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