Through seven games of his NFL career, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett has experienced the highs and lows of the professional game.
It’s a developmental process for the former Pitt Panthers star, one that got off to a strange start when he was inserted into the lineup for good at halftime of the Week 4 loss to the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium. Since then, he’s been tasked with handling a heavy workload for the Steelers offensively, which has put him in tough positions overall and led to some failures, though there has been plenty of success.
Still, that development process is not a linear one for any player at any level, and Pickett is currently in the midst of that up and down rollercoaster that is the developmental ride.
For head coach Mike Tomlin, he’s pleased overall with Pickett’s growth week by week to this point in his career, but for he and Pickett especially, that development isn’t happening fast enough. He doesn’t mean that in a negative way, either.
“He’s getting better in all areas guys, just the same way that George Pickens is getting better. I’m not gonna comb through it every week. Is it moving in the direction that we would like it to? Sure. Could it move faster? Absolutely,” Tomlin stated to reporters Tuesday, according to video via the Steelers official YouTube page. “I don’t think anybody is patient, including Kenny. This is not a patient man’s business. You work while you wait, and that’s what he and we are doing. But, he is doing a nice job, just in general.”
In today’s society, things have to happen right away for people to be satisfied, especially in the sports world. The development process can be long and arduous, and when something doesn’t happen right away, things can go sideways from a certain perspective.
While the Steelers would love for Pickett to be a finished product right now and elevate the Steelers back towards their winning ways, that’s just not going to happen. Rarely does it happen for a rookie quarterback in the NFL. It takes time, reps, and experience.
Lately, that’s never been more clear than with Pickett. While he did have 52 career starts in college and has seven games under his belt in the black and gold, it’s a young offense around him in the second year under an offensive coordinator under fire. Things aren’t going smoothly, and that puts more pressure on a quarterback who might not be entirely ready to perform.
The Steelers and the fanbase were spoiled by the work Ben Roethlisberger did as a rookie in 2004, going 13-0 as the starter on a team that reached the AFC Championship Game. It’s time to stop comparing Pickett and Roethlisberger’s rookie season. It’s ridiculous to even try.
Roethlisberger stepped into a ready-made team that was a championship contender, even with him as the third-string option to open the season. A great run game and a dominant defense helped that.
Pickett doesn’t have that. The NFL game has changed dramatically, too.
Patience is required. It’s a long process with no real timeframe on when — or if — it will be complete. But, as Tomlin says, it’s not a patient man’s business and teams must win now, even with young quarterbacks.
That’s not happening in Pittsburgh, but the good news is Pickett is progressing nicely. Let’s reassess when the season is complete.