As soon as Kenny Pickett entered the game on Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-20 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, the energy shifted. The stadium got louder and you could just feel a shift in the game. According to wide receiver Chase Claypool, the moment wasn’t too big for Pickett. Talking to media today, Claypool said that Pickett said starting was where he was supposed to be.
“I said ‘how you feeling’ right before he went out for his first snap at halftime there. He said ‘I feel great, this is where I’m supposed to be,’” Claypool said via a tweet from 93.7 The Fan’s Josh Rowntree.
You have to love that level of confidence from your rookie quarterback, and Pickett played like he deserved to be the starter. He put the Steelers in a position to win and put points on the board, and while his second interception ultimately led to the Jets’ game-winning touchdown, he looked a lot better than Mitch Trubisky did in the first half.
Going forward, Pickett’s going to need to continue to be confident. Pittsburgh’s going to be underdogs in at least their next four games, and it’s going to need their rookie quarterback’s play to match his confidence if they want to pull off an upset victory. He’s already embracing the underdog mentality (even if Von Miller disagrees with it), and Pickett is going to have to play like there’s nothing to lose, because at this point, there really isn’t.
While you’d like to see Pickett cut down on the interceptions (and I’m in the camp that the first one wasn’t his fault and obviously the third was a do-or-die hail mary), I still want to see him play with some aggressiveness and take some shots down the field. He did a good job finding George Pickens down the field against the Jets, as well as getting Pat Freiermuth involved. If Diontae Johnson can make some more plays, then that’s a nice cadre of weapons for Pickett.
I’m excited to see what Pickett can do. At this point, I think it would take nothing short of a miracle for the Steelers to make the playoffs, so I’m excited to see Pickett perform and see if he can be the quarterback of the future. I’ve been impressed with the early returns, and I’m also expecting some rookie mistakes like the ones he made on Sunday. Still, it’s a new era of Steelers football, and I love Pickett’s confidence. It’s going to be fun to watch him sling it the rest of the year and hopefully back that confidence up with some results.