Kenny Pickett Says Game Has ‘Slowed Down Each Week’ Since Steelers Week 9 Bye

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett is set to start on Saturday against the Las Vegas Raiders after missing last week’s win over the Carolina Panthers and much of the Week 14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens with a concussion. Pickett, who took over for Mitch Trubisky at halftime of the Steelers’ Week 4 loss against the New York Jets. Pickett struggled with turnovers early in his tenure as starter, but since Pittsburgh’s Week 9 bye, the rookie quarterback has taken a step forward and has done a better job protecting the ball and managing the game, and as a result, the Steelers have had more success. During his press conference today, Pickett talked about the game slowing down for him.

“I think it really improved after the bye week and having that week to just slow down for a second and it all happened fast when I got in there vs. the Jets and I got my feet under me. I feel like after that bye we could have the time to study what I was doing and what I need to do better and what we need to do better as an offense. Ever since then, I feel like it’s slowed down each week. And I loved the game plans each week, felt great about them. Just being really more comfortable in the system. Like I’ve been saying for the past couple weeks, it’s all about playing and getting reps and I feel good with where I’m at right now,” Pickett said via a video posted to

That’s what you want to hear out of your rookie quarterback. I don’t think anyone expected Pickett to come in and immediately become a top-level starting quarterback, and he certainly wasn’t. But the benefit of playing him early was that he gets more reps and can continue to develop while learning on the fly against an opposing defense week in and week out. The Steelers could’ve sat him for the year and had him sit until Trubisky until he was “ready,” but they believe he’s the guy who can help him win games now, and the added benefit is his continued development.

The most important thing the Steelers need out of this season is for Pickett to develop into someone they think they can build the franchise around. A playoff berth would be nice, and it would be a disappointment if the Steelers don’t make it (and let’s be honest, they won’t). But with a rookie quarterback, the team needs to see his development. And so far, through his decision-making and game sense, it’s fair to say Pickett is a better quarterback right now in Week 16 than he was in Week 4. When you spend a first-round pick on the quarterback, he needs to be able to be the guy. I think Pickett, while he might not ever be a top-five quarterback in the league, can be the franchise quarterback for the Steelers. They’ll have to build around him and continue adding, but this season was all about seeing what you have in Pickett and making sure he was the right choice to be the quarterback of the future.

Hopefully, his most recent concussion isn’t a setback and he can continue building off what he’s done so far and finish the year strong. Pittsburgh’s offense as a whole has been much better since the bye week, and with Pickett under center on Saturday against the Raiders, look for the offensive output to continue.

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