Kenny Pickett was thrust into action for his NFL debut during today’s 24-20 loss to the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium. Pickett replaced Mitch Trubisky after a first half where Trubisky was 7-13 for 84 yards and the Steelers’ offense only put up six points. Despite being benched, Pickett said Trubisky was a big help to him from the sidelines.
“He was great. Communication was great. Just trying to help me out the way I was helping him out. He’s a great guy and definitely glad he’s on our team and I have him as a teammate,” Pickett said in his postgame press conference posted to the team’s YouTube channel.
While Trubisky talked about being disappointed he got pulled, it’s good that he was still able to be an asset to the team and to Pickett. Trubisky’s been in Pickett’s shoes before, as he replaced Mike Glennon as the Bears’ starter back during his rookie season when he was with the Chicago Bears. Obviously, Trubisky would much rather be starting, but it’s a testament to his leadership that he was able to help out and mentor Pickett through his first NFL snaps.
Pickett had an up and down performance, which is pretty much par for the course for a rookie quarterback. He definitely delivered a spark, and the two second-half touchdowns were the only two touchdowns the team scored all day. He also led a 12-play, 82-yard drive that ended in his second rushing touchdown. Those long, sustained drives were something the Steelers were missing, and Pickett was able to provide that.
But he made his fair share of mistakes, too. His interception to Chase Claypool could’ve been thrown better, but ultimately that’s a ball that Claypool should’ve come down with against a 5’8 corner. His interception on a pass intended to Pat Freiermuth with 3:34 left to set up the Jets’ game-winning drive and was just a throw he shouldn’t have made. It was a rookie mistake, and one that’s going to need to be avoided for the Steelers to win games.
Pickett looked better than Trubisky has this season, though. He’s probably going to be the starter the rest of the way, and Trubisky will hopefully keep up the mentorship and help Pickett out. There are going to be mistakes made, but the goal is for Pickett to grow for them and get better, and show he can be the quarterback of the future for the Pittsburgh Steelers.