The decision on whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers have their quarterback of the future comes down to evaluating Kenny Pickett’s decision-making. That’s the name of the game. Those who make good decisions thrive, those who don’t are quickly replaced. While it’s still very early in Pickett’s career and like any rookie, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride, and Pickett knows his job is to get better with each opportunity.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, he discussed how he’s looking to improve over the next eight games.
“Gonna continue to get better,” Pickett said as tweeted by The Trib’s Chris Adamski. “I’m nowhere near where I want to be. Where I need to be. It’s a day at a time.”
Through the first half of his rookie season, Pickett’s box score numbers certainly don’t look the best. Two touchdowns to eight interceptions isn’t going to put you in the Pro Bowl. In fact, his start led to a joke-y comment from Ryan Leaf, welcoming him to the “Rookie Struggle’ club.
But numbers can be deceiving and not all eight of those interceptions are Pickett’s fault. To his credit, he took care of the football in Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints, a crucial component to Pittsburgh notching its third victory of the year. Though it’s cliché and obvious, as QBs Coach Mike Sullivan said over the bye, winning a game means first not losing it. That means taking care of the football, not giving the opponent a short field, and not taking chances to score off the board.
Despite the lack of turnovers, Pickett made some questionable decisions and plays in the game. Ben Roethlisberger critiqued him for missing Diontae Johnson downfield on two occasions, the latter of which was objectively a poor read with Pickett not seeing the post-snap picture well. Improving his post-snap reads and red zone play are two critical areas of his game to watch the rest of the season.
“Things to continue to improve on,” Pickett later said. “Things I need to be a lot better at.”
Since Day One, he’s been a leader and accountable, the benefits of a 5th-year college quarterback older than the typical first round pick. Pickett knows where he has to improve. Now he’ll have to go out and get the job done.