Kenny Pickett’s mobility is common knowledge. It’s been refreshing for a Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense that lacked QB mobility for the final 5+ years of Ben Roethlisberger’s career. But mobility doesn’t just mean quarterbacks running downfield and picking up first downs with their legs. There’s an art, there’s a balance, and in Matt Canada’s eyes, Pickett is beginning to find it.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Canada spoke to Pickett’s improvement there.
“There’s some improvement in that,” he said in a transcript issued by the team. “I think he was looking to maybe run first or where his eyes were. I think we’ve had to work through that, he’s had to work through that, and I think you’ve seen that evolve.”
In other words, Pickett is keeping his eyes downfield as he scrambles and leaves the pocket. Instead of immediately looking to cross the line of scrimmage and run, he’s done better of looking for his receivers downfield, allowing the offense to gain more yards without the risk of Pickett getting hit.
It’s something we highlighted following the Cincinnati Bengals’ game, showing this clip of Pickett – instead of running – keeping his eyes downfield to hit TE Pat Freiermuth for a 27-yard gain.
Or late in the game, Pickett flushed left, kept his eyes up, and found Gunner Olszewski for a solid pickup that set up Najee Harris’ one-yard score.
Pickett showed similar traits on the Steelers’ critical two-point conversion in the 4th quarter of Monday night’s win over the Indianapolis Colts. Instead of trying to run, Pickett kept his eyes downfield and hit George Pickens in the back corner for a successful conversion.
Canada pointed out Pickett’s heady decision-making on that play.
“It was really a good picture of what we would like to do in that case…Kenny maybe could have run it in, but he probably would have taken a really big hit…”
It’s part of Pickett’s progress and evolution seen especially since the bye week. He’s also taken great care of the football, not throwing an interception since Week 8, and he’s only fumbled from within the pocket once all season. Fumbles for him were an issue in college and it’s been an underrated positive of his game. There’s still work for him and this offense to do, he still has just three touchdown passes this season, and his completion percentage has dipped in recent weeks (63% since the bye) but he – like the Steelers as a whole – are moving in the right direction.