It was a tale of two halves for Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett in last Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. In the first half, Pickett led the Steelers to a 20-17 lead thanks to his 141 passing yards and a touchdown pass to George Pickens in the first half. In the second half, Pickett failed to throw a touchdown and threw for 124 yards.
Speaking to Bob Pompeani on The Mike Tomlin Show streamed via the Steelers YouTube, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addressed what went wrong for his rookie quarterback.
“You know [he was] not as sharp and a lot of it has to do with circumstances” Tomlin said. “We were behind the chain some because of some penalties and stuff and when we get a young guy in one dimensional circumstances, it gets increasingly difficult for him to win and play to win.”
Picket struggled in the second half mightily, and it was part of the reason the Steelers did not pull off the win. However, like Tomlin said a lot of his struggles were situational. Poor play calling and untimely penalties set the Steelers offense up in many second and third and longs, making it easy for the Bengals defense to sit back and protect the first down marker.
In addition, neither tackles played all that well allowing the Bengals’ EDGE rushers to make life very difficult for Pickett and limit the time he had in the pocket.
The first half Pickett did not have those problems as the offensive line did not commit many penalties and the Steelers got in a lot of third and manageable situations. In addition to that, they had some success in the ground game making the Bengals defense have to respect the run. This led to the pass rush not getting in as quickly and for Pickett to have more time to survey the field.
When Pittsburgh was in third and long positions in the second half, the Bengals sat back and allowed their talented EDGE rushers to play the pass completely, making it harder for receivers to get open and causing Pickett to have less time.
The game is still moving fast for Pickett, so having the ability to threaten teams with a run game is important to take pressure off of his shoulders and give him more time. On Monday night, I would like to see the rushing attack get going again so Pickett can have more time to go through his progressions and not have a defense that is selling out for the pass making it hard to complete passes that can pick up first downs.