Grading Kenny Pickett’s Debut: Spark Provided
In the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Jets, Mike Tomlin turned to Kenny Pickett for energy. He gave exactly that, but how was he overall? It’s time to grade his performance and see if he should start going forward.
Pickett provided a spark this team desperately needed. His rushing ability was on full display with two rushing touchdowns, and how he picked up multiple first downs with his legs. The Steelers used his mobility in ways we were unable to see with Mitch Trubisky. Pickett scrambled around and bought time for throws, although those were not particularly good plays. Pickett did look good on the move, including a nice throw while rolling out to his left. He and fellow rookie George Pickens had a clear connection, and it led to Pickens’ best game of the season by far. The ceiling of this offense has been raised. There was more hope in this second half than the entirety of Mitch Trubisky’s time.
Pickett struggled throwing the ball downfield. His first throw was an underthrown interception targeting Chase Claypool in double coverage — a rough look. Then he threw a high ball to the sideline to Pat Freiermuth and that got tipped for an interception. The last interception was on a Hail Mary, so I don’t care about that one. He simply wasn’t asked to do a ton, and when he tried to go deep, a limited arm was on display. The floor of the offense was lowered as a result, it was not this turnover prone with Trubisky or Ben Roethlisberger.
Kenny Pickett wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great this game either. He was about bang average, with multiple bad throws being punished in horrible ways, but him having his moments on the ground and a great connection with Pickens is a plus. Tomlin has yet to commit to Pickett being the starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers moving forward.