Even In Defeat, Tomlin Encouraged By Pickett’s First Start

On his weekly YouTube show, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin gave his analysis of Kenny Pickett’s first career start. Despite the 38-3 blowout loss, Tomlin, like many fans, was impressed with his rookie quarterback. 

When asked by Bob Pompeani on The Mike Tomlin Show about Pickett’s performance Tomlin said:

“I thought he made good and timely decisions. I thought he was highly competitive. I thought he worked to move the group.”

One of the biggest criticisms the Mitch Trubisky led offense had was that they did not move the ball. While the Steelers did not get on the scoreboard much against the Buffalo Bills, they were able to move the ball into scoring position on multiple occasions, and even scored points on their first drive for the first time this season. This clearly stuck out to Mike Tomlin as it was the first thing he said about his rookie quarterback.

Tomlin was not done praising Pickett, also saying:

“Oftentimes, he was making good and timely decisions and putting the ball in the right hands.”

Tomlin specifically mentioned the play where he found Diontae Johnson on a fourth down in the red-zone that Johnson was not able to come down with in regards to Pickett’s decision making. He rarely threw into bad situations, and even the pass he was intercepted on was not a terrible decision. Pickett was trying to make a play as the team went down big before halftime and saw Johnson open. However, instead of a big play, Bills’ corner Kaiir Elam just made a great play to get back in the vicinity of the ball before it got to Johnson and picked it off. 

However, as all good coaches do, Tomlin did point out an area where Pickett could improve in: situational football. 

“I didn’t think we won enough in situational ball, obviously at the quarterback position he’s a component of that. But we just got to win more situational plays, particularly possession downs within the red area.”

While this is a valid criticism of the team in the fact that the Steelers only scored three points, I am not sure how much of this really falls on the shoulders of Pickett. He threw numerous gorgeous passes in the red-zone that could have set the Steelers up in great position to score a touchdown but the receivers consistently let him down. While the buck does ultimately stop with quarterback, Pickett is not going to be able to do it himself. If the skill position players don’t step up, the Steelers will continue to struggle to win situational plays. 

Overall, Mike Tomlin had a lot of good to say about the Steelers rookie quarterback. It is a long season, and there are certainly areas for Pickett to improve on, but the first start of Pickett’s career was certainly encouraging. Now, Tomlin and the Steelers look to right the ship against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Kenny Pickett’s first career home start. 

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