Hold Your Hot Takes – We Don’t Know Who Kenny Pickett Is Yet

It would be nice if we didn’t live in a world of hot takes; of course, we do. Depending upon your level of exposure to social media and various other outlets who might seek to popularize themselves on social media through hot takes, you may have already seen more than your fair share of them following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss on Sunday.

Most of them involving rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, who made just his third start, and started and finished a game for just the second time of his career. On the whole, it didn’t go particularly well, since it will be defined by what happened in the final few minutes, namely two interceptions on potential game-winning drives.

That is awful, of course. It was bad. There needed to be better awareness in the moment that he lacked. So why are opinion columns labeled as ‘hot takes’ for acknowledging in a very real and tangible sense that the quarterback’s late interceptions lost the game?

Of course they did. But at the same time, these things happen, and if you actually go back and watch the plays, you can at least analyze how those situations developed. Young players have to learn the hard way sometimes.

The bottom line is we shouldn’t be drawing any substantial conclusions about who Kenny Pickett is at this point in his career. We’re in an observational stage. The most important things that we can take away right now are things like accuracy and poise, his general command of the offense.

Yes, he needs to be able to survey the field and make judgements on the fly. Those things are easier to gain than improving your accuracy and growing more comfortable in the pocket. But that’s not to say that we should all be positive about Pickett right now.

The rookie has shown a lot of things to be excited about. He’s also shown a lot to be concerned about. That’s usually what happens when a young player plays early on, regardless of discussions about whether or not it’s ‘sooner than he should’. And it doesn’t matter who threw how many interceptions in their first x amount of games, either.

The subject is Kenny Pickett. The data is the past four games. It’s ultimately a small sample size. We can comment on what we see individually, in a vacuum, without drawing broad conclusions. Or at least we’re supposed to be able to. It doesn’t always work out that way.

Based on my surveying of the Steelers media landscape, it doesn’t seem that everybody is on the same page. I’m not going to point out individual media personalities or other platforms that may be contributing to hysteria in either a defensive or offensive direction; if you care to know them, you probably have already seen them.

I don’t even know what this is. A word of caution? A plea for sanity? Perhaps it’s just a reminder not to live and die with every throw Pickett makes right now, because you’re not going to be able to evaluate him that way. The final play was awful. The fourth-down conversion to Pat Freiermuth was exceptional. He’s neither of those players. He’s somewhere in between.

But where? We can’t possibly know right now. But I guess it’s important to plant your flag early, one way or the other, in case you eventually end up being lucky and guessing right. Because I think we all know that the loudest mouths don’t tend to be the ones who have the keenest analytical skills.

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