2022 is a tough year for a rookie quarterback like Kenny Pickett to step into. The Pittsburgh Steelers on track to have their first losing season since 2003, one year before Ben Roethlisberger’s arrival that turned the franchise’s fortunes around. Pickett has thrust into action early in the year as he and the offense tried to figure out who they were. That’s come with plenty of growing pains along the way but through it all, center J.C. Hassenauer believes Pickett’s done a great job of taking charge of the offense. Speaking to reporters Monday, Hassenauer discussed Pickett’s leadership.
“I think he’s a tremendous leader,” he said via Steelers.com. “I think he’s a good competitor too.”
Unlike years past, the Steelers’ offense has been without go-to leaders. It’s a new and young cast of characters, including at quarterback. QB Mitch Trubisky was signed in free agency to be one of the team’s central leaders and he remains a team captain. But Pickett is now the starter and has the keys to the franchise.
Older and more mature than most rookie quarterbacks, Pickett’s embraced that leadership role. Not just in good times but bad ones, publicly calling out teammates for not working hard enough following the team’s Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Though that may have led to some uncomfortable conversations, Hassenauer said he appreciated how frank Pickett is willing to be.
“For a rookie to come in and make a statement like that, it’s pretty big, It’s pretty bold. I can’t say enough good things about Kenny.”
Pittsburgh’s offense has shown progress the last two weeks, rushing for over 200 yards in Week 10 against New Orleans, breaking a 92-game drought, while scoring a season-high 30 points in yesterday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Still, the offense has work to do. With Pittsburgh’s season almost mathematically over, they’d essentially have to run the table, the focus should be on Pickett’s progress and working towards determining if he’s really the franchise answer. While that jury is out, Hassenauer says Pickett has all the intangibles a franchise quarterback needs to possess.
“He’s taken a big leadership role and people trust him. He has the whole team behind him supporting him. I think he’s done a tremendous job.”
Pickett and this Steelers’ offense will get their next opportunity under primetime lights, the first such game of Pickett’s pro career, when the team travels to Indianapolis for a Monday night contest in Week 13. The Colts open up the week as early favorites and have responded well to interim head coach Jeff Saturday.