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‘Growing By Leaps And Bounds’: Tomlin On Pickett’s Progression

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett has been under some fire this past week for his rough looking numbers to start his career. In four games he has thrown two touchdowns and seven interceptions, including two at the end of last Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins which stalled out potential game-winning drives. However, head coach Mike Tomlin has been encouraged by the play of the rookie signal caller. 

On The Mike Tomlin Show broadcasted on the Steelers’ YouTube page, Tomlin spoke on some encouraging things he saw from Pickett on his 13-play 86 yard touchdown drive in the second quarter. 

“Anticipatory throws, varsity accuracy, the prudent use of mobility and appropriate moments, running the ball on a third down, utilizing his legs versus two deep man under.” 

Tomlin also noted Pickett’s overall progress has been steady.

“He’s growing by leaps and bounds with every opportunity. It was on display and that drive and others. The fact that we were able to put together a drive and go the long haul is kind of reflective of growth and development and him and in us.” 

There were not many offensive highlights last weekend for the Steelers, but that drive was certainly one of them. On that drive Pickett completed eight passes and also had a huge scramble on third down to keep the drive alive. One thing to note about that drive was that Pickett was running no-huddle for some of it, and it worked really well. Overall, the offense has shown life when Pickett has run no-huddle, similar to how when Ben Roethlisberger ran the no-huddle last year, the offense looked better. 

While Pickett and this offense certainly have struggled throughout the year, each game it seems that Pickett puts together a very good drive that shows off his potential and why the Steelers think so highly of him. The opening drives of both the Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers games are two other examples of Pickett’s potential shining. 

However, when talking about the good that Pickett has provided thus far we also must talk about the bad. The bad being his decision-making at times. This was on full display at the end of the Dolphins game, and Tomlin addressed this in his show today. 

“We turned the ball over. He was making an aggressive play and an effort to win the game for us” said Tomlin. “He’s playing and playing to win. There’s gonna be some negativity with that. But make no mistake, we understand that but we do believe that he has enough skills and we have enough skills to win while those things are transpiring, so we’re not grading on a curve.”

It seems that Mike Tomlin has no urge to have Kenny Pickett play less aggressively. In fact, he appreciates Pickett’s aggressiveness. Tomlin has no concerns about arm strength or accuracy, and it seems that he believes if Pickett just makes smarter decisions when being aggressive, he will help the Steelers win football games. 

At the end of the day, the Steelers’ future hinges on seeing what Kenny Pickett brings to the table, and by letting him be aggressive and work out his struggles this year it may lead to better play next year. So far Mike Tomlin has been encouraged by what he’s seen, and Tomlin coached a future Hall of Fame quarterback for 14 seasons, so he knows about what good quarterback play looks like. Hopefully Pickett will continue to grow throughout the season, and even in a year that looks bleak, Pickett’s growth throughout this season should keep fans on the edge of their seats. 

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