For a team with a tremendous history of success, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in unchartered territory at 2-6 coming off of their bye week. Even though Steelers fans are tired of hearing it, the fact that Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his team have avoided a losing season for 15 years now certainly adds pressure, especially as they are in jeopardy of breaking that streak while QB Kenny Pickett plays out his rookie year. Luckily, this weekend presents a very beatable opponent in the New Orleans Saints as they travel to Acrisure Stadium, who are also in the midst of an underwhelming year. Earlier today, Tomlin talked about Pickett and his play so far, as well as what the future may hold for him.
“I like the intangible qualities that he’s displayed,” said Tomlin via The Mike Tomlin Show on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ YouTube channel. “I like the leadership, the communication skills, he’s highly competitive. He plays to win as opposed to playing not to lose.”
So far this season, Pickett is 1-3 as a starter, but has faced an extremely challenging schedule. His three defeats were against the Bills, Dolphins and Eagles, three teams who may very well be in contention for the Lombardi trophy at the end of the year. His statistics are not pretty on a box score, as he’s thrown only two touchdowns compared to eight interceptions, but many of those turnovers have not been completely his fault. Additionally, he has a shown a level of poise and confidence that is rare for a rookie starter at the quarterback position.
“He’s got to take care of the ball better. Sometimes circumstances have been a component of that,” explained Tomlin. “The more experience he gets, it’s reasonable to expect him to manage [the turnovers] even in challenging situations or game-like situations.”
A win on Sunday would bring Pittsburgh to 3-6, which presents far more encouragement and a sliver of hope that would not be existent at 2-7. The backend of their schedule is presumably less challenging than the first eight games, so a win tomorrow may act as a catalyst for a late season run to make for a respectable season and provide momentum for the young core of Pittsburgh, and especially Pickett.