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Homistek: The Truth About Kenny Pickett Isn’t Fun

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Kenny Pickett lives under the microscope.

But right now, after the Steelers just got whooped at home, 37-30, by the Bengals in Week 11, it’s time to pull away from the lens and take a look at the bigger picture.

Pickett, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round draft pick in 2022, took over as the team’s starter in Week 5 of the 2022 NFL season.

Since then, he’s gone 2-4 under center.

You know all this. Here’s what you don’t know:

Is Kenny Pickett the future of the Pittsburgh Steelers?

I know you want an answer, but the truth isn’t fun.

It’s not a resounding “yes.” That’s certain.

Pickett averages just 218 yards per game through the air, and he’s thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (three) along the way.

The Steelers’ offense has scored more than 20 points exactly once with Pickett at the helm. That came Sunday.

In a loss.

The answer to that all-important question about Pickett isn’t a definitive “no,” either.

Pickett flashes potential nearly every game –– with his arm and with his legs –– and the learning curve for a quarterback at the NFL level is steep.

We’ve seen countless examples of great quarterbacks who struggle out of the gates. It’s not new. Pickett still has time to put it together.

Unfortunately, the answer after Week 11’s loss is simply a hearty shrug of the shoulders and a “we’ll see.”

Counting Pickett in or out right now is ludicrous.

“I’m going to sling it to the end,” Pickett said at the podium after the Bengals loss. “My confidence level has not wavered. I’m extremely competitive and I hate to lose, and it doesn’t feel good sitting up here after a loss, that’s for sure.”

And you know what? Let’s lean back into that microscope.

Sunday’s loss to the Bengals captured Pickett’s highs and lows perfectly.

In the first half, Pickett guided the Steelers to a 20-17 halftime lead. He went 14-for-19 (74%) for 141 yards and a touchdown along with zero turnovers.

A lead, solid stats, and plays like this?

That’s what the Steelers need from Pickett.

For two quarters, Pickett looked not only serviceable but downright solid under center.

And then came Pickett’s final 30 minutes of play.

Shoo, this is rough.

Grab a bag or a trash can if you’re squeamish. The stats aren’t pretty:

  • 5-for-16 (31%), 47 yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions

Head coach Mike Tomlin won’t throw his rookie under the bus for obvious reasons. But his comments on Pickett’s play say it all.

Appreciate his effort,” Tomlin began after the game. “Obviously, we didn’t get it done today, and we all gotta own that.” 

That’s it. That’s Tomlin’s recap for his rookie quarterback. The lack of substance is damning.

Pickett left meat on the bone.

In fact, he left an entire roast hanging in the meat locker. There’s no way around it.

Pickett squandered a halftime lead, and he fell apart down the stretch, eventually losing to an AFC North rival.

“The penalties and not taking advantage of the short field are the things that stick out immediately,” Pickett said. “Our defense did a great job of giving us a chance to win the game and we didn’t come through in that second half.

“That’s on us.”

To be fair, Pickens dropped an absolute dime from Pickett in garbage time that would’ve padded the stats a bit:

But that’s just it. That came in garbage time. The Steelers had little to no shot of winning, drop or not.

Pickett needs to be better –– and he has plenty of time to improve. Keep the book open, and stay open to revisions. His story isn’t written.

Because as much as we can sit back and look at those disgusting second-half stats against the Bengals, we also need to consider this:

Put another way:

That’s not all on young Mr. Pickett.

“We gotta go out there and execute whatever’s called,” Pickett said after the game.

The man calling the plays doesn’t seem to have things quite dialed in, so Pickett’s play might be handicapped a bit.

The Steelers’ problems run deep, and Pickett happens to be the guy at (or under) the center of them, justified or not.

That’s just life under the microscope.

And he needs to get comfortable there.

Because if the Steelers right the ship anytime soon, that’s where Pickett belongs.

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