After preseason, when Kenny Pickett ended it with a perfect passer rating, the Steelers are set to be a team that takes a step or two forward in 2023. While the team still faces some questions, Pickett is one of the most hyped-up players entering his second season. While media pundits hop onto the Pickett train, one former NFL general manager likes Pickett, too.
Randy Mueller wrote in the Athletic that the polish Kenny Pickett displays on the field separates him from the other young quarterbacks in the NFL. He is all in on Pickett and what he can do this upcoming season.
“Pickett’s play is the most polished and diverse of this group,” Mueller wrote. “He has a feel for the pocket, can process info and get the ball to targets based on the coverage in a timely fashion. He is advanced beyond the others, so timing and anticipation are obvious when watching him go through reads and progressions. He plays with a sense of confidence, and Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada is calling plays now without restriction in Year 2. Pickett is sneaky athletic but at times will still flush the pocket for no apparent reason. I’d love to see him hang in there longer.”
The most striking thing about what Mueller wrote next is that he thinks there is more pressure on Matt Canada than Pickett to elevate the offense. Mueller would place that more on Canada than Pickett if they lose and disappoint. It doesn’t seem very easy to envision a scenario where that legitimately ends up happening, but Mueller believes that Pickett is the type of quarterback to elevate those around him.
“I actually think there is more pressure on Canada to advance the versatility of this offense than there is on Pickett to execute it. I don’t see Pickett holding the Steelers back, and in fact, they can win because of him, not despite him,” Mueller said.
For any quarterback, the win despite excuse often forces teams to go up and make moves. For example, Alex Smith took the Chiefs far in the AFC playoffs many times, but they went out to get Patrick Mahomes to take that ceiling to the next level. Pittsburgh needs Pickett to be an elevator of talent. 2023 is the season where they will truly find out if he is that type of quarterback.