Though it was fully expected, Mike Tomlin named Kenny Pickett the Pittsburgh Steelers’ new starting quarterback. He confirmed the news during his Tuesday press conference, saying Pickett will start this Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills. It backs up the depth chart the Steelers released Tuesday, showing Pickett jumping Mitch Trubisky for the QB1 spot.
“Kenny will start this week,” Tomlin said Tuesday.
Pickett made his regular season debut in Week 4’s loss to the New York Jets, replacing veteran Mitch Trubisky. He went 10/13 with three interceptions and two rushing touchdowns, an odd-looking stat line, but an overall encouraging performance where the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
Tomlin reiterated playing Pickett in the second half of the Jets’ game was done in an attempt to give the offense a boost.
“We decided to go to Kenny in the hopes he’d provide a spark for us. We felt that.”
Tomlin said there will be no limitations on Pickett being able to run the Steelers’ offense, though he knows starting a career at Buffalo isn’t ideal.
“We have no reservations about what Kenny is going to be capable of in terms of our schematics. Obviously, we have a level of concern about the environment we’re taking him into…that’s a component of it but not a significant component of it.”
Signed to a two-year deal this offseason, Trubisky lasted just four starts with the Steelers after being the team’s frontrunner throughout the entire spring and summer. Tomlin stood by Trubisky up until Sunday’s game, noting he was encouraged by him and the offense’s play. But that changed against the Jets after the Steelers only netted a pair of 50+ yard field goals in the first half. Now, Trubisky will serve as the team’s backup.
Tomlin tried to soften the news by not pinning all of the Steelers’ offensive struggles on Trubisky’s play but noting the team was going to go in a different direction to jumpstart their offense.
“I don’t want to dump the responsibility of what transpired at Mitch’s feet. That’s not fair to him. He’s played better than that description but we haven’t. In an effort to be better, in an effort to score more points, in an effort to move the ball more fluidly, we decided to go to Kenny.”
Tomlin later confirmed Trubisky will remain active and serve as the team’s #2 quarterback. Mason Rudolph will stay as the #3.
Pickett will make his first start in a tough environment, taking on the 3-1 Bills on the road. The Steelers will enter the game as massive 14-point underdogs, the biggest line against them ever, but they did upset Buffalo on the road last year.