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Berger: Steelers Should Start Kenny Pickett … But Not Yet

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Pittsburgh Steelers, Kenny Pickett

Calls for the Pittsburgh Steelers to bench quarterback Mitch Trubisky in favor of rookie Kenny Pickett have been loud and abundant in the aftermath of the team’s 17-14 loss to the New England Patriots.

We may be just two games into the 2022 season, but you can’t really blame Steelers fans for wanting to see a change from the anemic Trubisky-led offense.

“We can be better at everything,” Trubisky said postgame Sunday at Acrisure Stadium. “I can be better at decision-making. We had some missed opportunities. I had some missed throws. We had a couple where we weren’t on the same page. Bottom line: We’ve got to score more points.”

Trubisky got that right. The Steelers have scored just two offensive touchdowns in two games while averaging 18.5 points per game. 

The offense has settled for five field goals and made just four trips to the red zone.

“I have to look at the tape in terms of an evaluation standpoint, but obviously we collectively didn’t make enough plays today, he included,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of Trubisky and the offense’s Sunday performance.

Those chants for Pickett at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday appear justified given the offense’s output thus far, but the Steelers should not turn to the rookie just yet.

I am not opposed to handing the keys to the car over to Pickett. In fact, I’ve been an unapologetic supporter of the rookie being the starting quarterback of the Steelers since he was drafted.

But Pittsburgh should wait until Week 4, a home tilt against the New York Jets, to do it.

Of course, I am not saying Trubisky has necessarily earned another game as the starter after his performances against the Bengals and the Patriots.

He has looked timid, indecisive, and overwhelmed throughout his two starts. Trubisky’s showing so far has not earned him anything.

It is just that thrusting Pickett into a Thursday-night, primetime game against a division rival on a short week isn’t exactly doing all you can to set him up for success in his first start.

Do I think Pickett could lead this offense better than Trubisky at this current moment? I do.

But starting Pickett in the friendly confines of Acrisure Stadium with nine days of preparation seems like the most prudent course of action.

Not only do you not expose Pickett to a hostile environment as a trial by fire in his first NFL action, but you also give him more than a week to prepare and establish a game plan with offensive coordinator Matt Canada that hopefully accentuates his strengths.

Whether it’s the sluggish offense or the fans chanting his name in the stands, all signs point to the Steelers pivoting to Pickett sooner rather than later.

His tremendous preseason performance indicates he is more than ready to take the reins and lead this team.

While I completely understand the cries for Pickett to start in Cleveland on Thursday night, the smartest decision for the Steelers would be to make his debut Oct. 2 when the Jets come to town.

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