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Mike Tomlin Rather Blunt In Assessment Of Kenny Pickett: ‘He Needs To Work On All Aspects Of His Game’

After inserting rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett into the lineup at halftime of the Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets, longtime Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin kickstarted the career of the prized first-round draft pick a bit earlier than many anticipated.

Since then, Pickett has started nine games and seen action in 10 total. Though he’s dealt with two concussions, the second of which kept him out of the Week 15 matchup against the Carolina Panthers, Pickett has had his ups and downs on the field, going 4-5 as a starter for the Steelers.

Prior to the Week 9 bye week, Pickett was really struggling with turnovers, throwing eight interceptions and fumbling three times while failing to get the Steelers into the end zone consistently. Since the Week 9 bye week though, the Steelers and Pickett have steadily improved. Pickett hasn’t turned the ball over since the bye week, which has helped the Steelers win a handful of games since the much-needed bye week.

Though he has steadily improved, Pickett still has work to do in all aspects of his game, Tomlin stated Thursday morning on Good Morning Football on NFL Network.

“You know, to be bluntly honest, man, he needs to work on all aspects of his game. You know, he’s a talented guy, but he is a young guy and just the growth that’s in front of him is exciting,” Tomlin stated to the co-host panel on GMFB Thursday, according to video via NFL.com. “I say that all the while there’s an expectation that he is good enough for us to win right now. And so I just repeatedly make that point because I just want everyone to know we’re not grading and grading on a curve. Our job is to win.

“What he has done is he has gotten better with each and every outing. And that’s also something that we expect because he works so hard,” Tomlin added. “His focus and preparation is what you look for and so it’s reasonable when you have a talented young guy who’s highly competitive, who works extremely hard, to get better. And so it’s been a fun process to be a part of and to watch and I just anticipate it continuing and all the while, he and we better pursue victory.”

None of Tomlin’s words on Good Morning Football Thursday are a surprise, especially when it comes to a public assessment of a player.

Tomlin is never going to get too high on a young player and is never going to get too low publicly in his assessment, always stating that the player has work to do, but is steadily improving.

Largely, that’s what has occurred with Pickett this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Pickett sits at an overall grade of 67.7 on the season, including a 65.2 passing grade and a 75.3 rushing grade. Since the Week 9 bye week, Pickett has had his three highest-graded performances of the year.

While his raw numbers aren’t all that impressive right now (1,797 yards, four touchdowns, eight interceptions; three rushing touchdowns), he’s shown the ability to learn week to week, not making the same mistakes twice while adjusting on the fly within games based on what defenses are showing and doing.

He might not be that high-level franchise quarterback that is largely needed in the NFL today, but can be a solid starting quarterback of the Alex Smith level for a long time. That’s a testament to the work he puts in and the preparation he has each and every week from an X’s and O’s perspective.

Make no mistake though: there’s a lot of development and improvement left to make in all aspects, much like Tomlin stated.

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