During an appearance on the Poni and Mueller Show on 93.7 the Fan, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker and current analyst Arthur Moats expressed a lot of optimism in the future of the Steelers and specifically the future of rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, who led the team to a 7-2 finish to the 2022 season.
In comparing Pickett to the top quarterbacks in the AFC, including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Moats said he believes Pickett is already doing some of the things that makes them great.
“He’s already been doing some of the things,” Moats said. “I don’t think he’s far off from what you’re actually asking for in Kenny,” he continued.
Moats also said Pickett will benefit from a full offseason now that he’ll go in preparing as the QB1 and he already has a season under his belt and familiarity with the coaching staff. That preparation can take Pickett’s game to the next level, and Moats believes the natural ability is already there for Pittsburgh’s quarterback.
“Kenny Pickett, can he make every throw that Joe Burrow makes? Absolutely,” Moats said. We have to see it more consistently. We have to see it actually happen in the stadium in these critical moments. And we were seeing flashes of it last season, which is why the optimism is there.”
Moats also compared Pickett’s first-half performance to Burrow’s last season, and said the two felt they had to be able to make every throw. Once they leaned more on the run game, both quarterbacks became a better version of themselves. Burrow got hurt midway through his rookie year, but last year, while he led the Bengals to the Super Bowl and had a very strong second half of the season, he struggled with turnovers early, throwing nine in his first eight games of 2021.
Pickett finished with nine interceptions on the season this year after throwing eight in his first five games. Burrow actually had less attempts in his first eight starts last season than Pickett had in his first eight this year too, as Pickett threw the ball 280 times compared to 246 for Burrow. So while Moats’ comparison might seem a little bit far-fetched, there’s data to back it up.
It also provides another reason for optimism for Pickett heading into next year. He’s going to prepare like a starting NFL quarterback in a system he’s now familiar with and an offense that should be better in 2023. Everyone’s going to be older, and the team will likely add to the group via the draft and free agency. If Pickett gets another weapon or two alongside receivers George Pickens and Diontae Johnson with tight end Pat Freiermuth and he begins to push the ball downfield a bit more, he could be looking at a really solid season.
Obviously, that would also entail Matt Canada’s play-calling to get a little bit more creative and less predictable, but keeping Canada in place at least gives Pickett familiarity and makes his prep for 2023 just a little bit easier. Hopefully, the two can continue to build a strong relationship that leads to a more improved offense in 2023.
While former NFL executive Doug Whaley wasn’t very high on Pittsburgh’s future during an appearance on 93.7 earlier today, the same can’t be said of Moats. I’m more in agreement with Moats, and while I don’t think the Steelers will become Super Bowl contenders next season, I wouldn’t rule it out in 2-3 years. It’s certainly going to be an interesting era in Pittsburgh.