Quarterback Kenny Pickett is just seven starts into his career. He’s won all of three games, one of which he missed most of the second half of. But there’s no question about who runs this team. It’s the rookie first-round quarterback out of Pittsburgh, and that showed on the game-winning drive.
Though they stalled a few times in the first half and squandered some opportunities, the offense put up 16 points in the first half of last night’s win over the Indianapolis Colts, taking a 13-point lead into the third quarter. The combined struggles of the special teams and defense, however, meant that their job wasn’t done. They needed one more clutch drive, which came on their third possession of the second half, a 75-yard, 11-play drive culminating in a two-yard touchdown from running back Benny Snell Jr.
While center Mason Cole told Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan that he called. Pickett was asked about Cole saying that after the game, but it’s beneficial to hear what the lineman himself said about that observation.
“The run we scored on, Kenny called it”, Rowntree quotes him as saying—which, again, we already heard. “We had a timeout and Kenny was like, ‘I want to run this’. I was all for it, because it’s a run play. But to see that confidence, on 3rd and 2, on the goal line, is big. It’s good to see, it’s exciting to see, and it really shows who he is as a leader”.
It’s not the first time we’ve heard of Pickett making the pitch for this play or that, even going back to the preseason. One thing the Steelers knew they were getting was a quarterback who knows the game and is going to be able to handle running an offense without a lot of training wheels.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of room to grow, but he has the offense to grow in, and a part of that is having one that believes in him and recognizes him as the guy who’s on top. Pickett’s Steelers teammates recognize that in him.
They have all along. You can even go back, again, to the preseason when he made a great throw in the red zone while taking a hit, showing veteran poise in standing in the pocket knowing that he wasn’t going to escape it clean. He did the same thing again when he got onto the field in a real game.
Any rookie’s season is going to have its ups and downs, but Pickett has undeniably been trending upward, and it doesn’t hurt to have a 2-1 record over the last three games. they did score 30 points—a season high—in the game they lost, and the offense has put up over 20 points now in consecutive weeks, after failing to do so in each of the first nine.
Of course, he downplayed it himself, noting that the coaching staff asks him what plays he likes and makes him feel like he’s contributing. But the fact that he’s able to see things from the line and study what’s transpired in the game and deduce what play he feels will work in that moment shows positive mental development.
And his ability to convey that and get it run shows his leadership abilities coming to fruition.