Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett has made three starts thus far in his rookie season and the results have been a bit of a roller coaster to say the least.
Before even recording his first start, Pickett came into the game in relief of mitch Trubisky who was benched at halftime in Week 4 against the Jets and proceeded to throw a pick on his first NFL pass. Pickett would throw three INTs in the second half, but also showed off his mobility by scoring two TDs on the ground with his legs.
Pickett would then take on a dynamic Bills team in Buffalo and record a career-high 352 passing yards, but failed to find the end zone and threw another INT. He looked to be in a rhythm the following week against the Buccaneers, completing 11-of-18 pass attempts for 67 yards and a TD before getting knocked out of the game and placed into concussion protocol. Pickett managed to return for last Sunday’s game in Miami against the Dolphins and showed moments of promise, driving Pittsburgh down the field and into scoring range twice at the end of the game, only to throw two costly INTs on back-to-back drives to seal the defeat.
Still, despite the highs and lows of Pickett’s play thus far in 2022, RG James Daniels recognizes a key trait that has stood out to him in terms of Pickett’s play: timing.
“I mean, Kenny has done a really good job of like getting the ball out on time,” Daniels said regarding his QB Wednesday in the locker room on video from Chris Adamski’s Twitter page. “So, even if I, for example, there’s a play that I got beat on Sunday and Kenny got the ball out. I don’t think it is a pressure or whatever, but it looks good just because he got the ball out. But if he has to hold the ball, that’s a sack. And so, Kenny is just doing a really good job of getting the ball out on time.”
Pickett mentioned after the Jets game in Week 4 that it’s his game to stand in the pocket and take the hit if that’s what it takes to make a play for the team. He did just that against New York with DL Quinnen Williams bearing down on him, putting him on the ground as he delivered a strike to Pat Freiermuth over the middle.
Pickett did a good job of this again last week against Miami, throwing the ball with touch and anticipation with the pressure setting in on him like on this beautiful pass to Freiermuth over the middle with Melvin Ingram and Jaelan Phillips closing in on him in the pocket.
It’s unusual for rookie QBs to have that calm demeanor in the face of chaos, especially in their first few starts. While Pickett need to improve his execution and decision making in the crucial moments of the game, Daniels is right that his poise and timing has surely been a strength of his in recent weeks, getting the ball out to avoid sacks and give his weapons a chance to make a play.