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Omar Khan Reveals Critical Issue in Kenny Pickett Evaluation



Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

Without clearly stating it, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan basically said that former Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada impeded the development of quarterback Kenny Pickett during an one-on-one interview with Richie Walsh of KDKA.

Walsh asked Khan how long it takes to evaluate a quarterback, and Khan’s response pointed to the fact that Pickett was dealt a bad hand with Canada as his OC.

“It’s different, you know. There’s a lot of factors to it. Not only the player but the situation. Obviously, there’s been some issues with the offense the last couple years, and we’re excited about where we are with Arthur — Arthur Smith. There’s several factors, and it’s hard to pinpoint one thing,” Khan said.

Despite the fact that the Steelers brought former Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson in for a visit, Khan stated at the NFL Combine that he and the team has “full faith” in Pickett being the starting quarterback.

“I feel confident in him and his abilities. I’m encouraged by just understanding what Arthur Smith’s vision is for this offense and encouraged by what could — what that could mean for Kenny and his growth,” Khan said.

Pickett’s numbers under Canada were certainly not pretty. He has a 13-13 touchdown-interception ratio in 25 career games and the lowest touchdown percentage in NFL history (1.8%, minimum 500 pass attempts). He has thrown two touchdowns in a game just once (Week 3 of the 2023 season against the Las Vegas Raiders).

Mike Tomlin said at his season-ending press conference that Pickett must show them something this year. In his own words, Tomlin said it was a huge year for Pickett and his growth.

“We met this morning and acknowledged that,” Tomlin said when asked if Pickett must show growth. “It is a huge year for him. But I’m also excited about just watching him wear that component of it because I know how he’s wired and built. And I’m excited to watch him attack it.”

There’s no doubt about it, this is a make-or-break year for Pickett. It’s up to new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to mold and develop him, regardless if they bring in a big-name QB or not.

At least Pickett will have proper guidance with Smith as the OC. Smith was an offensive coordinator for two years with the Tennessee Titans and was the offensive play-caller in his three seasons as the Atlanta Falcons head coach. Canada had no experience as an NFL offensive coordinator prior to being promoted for the position by Tomlin in 2021.

While things didn’t work out for Smith as a head coach in Atlanta, he did have notable success in Tennessee as an OC. Smith was an offensive coordinator for two seasons with the Titans in 2019 and 2020. He took over an offense that been 27th in scoring and 25th in yards the year before. Though Derrick Henry was a force, with the Titans finishing sixth in rushing in 2018 and Henry himself finishing seventh, the rest of the offense didn’t work. The Titans ranked fourth in points scored and second in total yards during his final season in Tennessee.