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Patrick Peterson Believes Kenny Pickett Must Improve Pocket Management

The Pittsburgh Steelers have to fix Kenny Pickett’s pocket management if he is going to take the next step as an NFL quarterback.



Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett
ittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett warms up before a game against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 12, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

While everyone talks about Kenny Pickett struggling, very rarely is the ‘why’ to his struggles talked about around Pittsburgh Steelers circles. He has a decent arm, and he’s an above-average NFL athlete, but he can struggle to process from the pocket, and that can develop into bad tendencies in the pocket to leave it too early instead of staying in structure. Pickett can work out of structure and has shown it before, but he often relies upon it too much.

And that is what teammate and cornerback Patrick Peterson believes as well. He has to improve on his pocket presence because that is what Mason Rudolph did well during his stint as quarterback.

“He’s going to stand in the pocket, he’s not afraid of that pressure,” Peterson said of Rudolph on the All Things Covered Podcast. “I think what hurts Kenny is, and I think we talked about this off-camera, is he leaves too much. So, it makes it easier for guys to get to him. He does that too much and it makes easier for him to get corraled in the pocket. And it makes the defender’s job that much easier because now he can’t step up into his throw and deliver the ball with the right amount of velocity that needs to. That’s why you saw a big difference on offense. Because we were basically running the same staff. Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, take our shots, run a couple of slants. The difference was that Mason had the ability to stand strong in the pocket and deliver those balls, take those shots.”

Peterson said that if he had to hand the keys to one player to be the starting quarterback for his team in 2024, it would be Kenny Pickett, citing that he believes Pickett at least deserves the chance to show the Steelers what he can do under Arthur Smith’s tutelage.

“If I had to hand the keys over to a guy, it would be Kenny Pickett,” Peterson said. Not only did we go out and draft this guy, we got him as our franchise quarterback. It didn’t end up panning out the way we thought it would. We fired our OC, We’re gonna give everybody a fresh start, and we drafted him to be our guy. So now we’ve got a new offensive coordinator in here, a new offensive mind, a new way of thinking on how to get the ball down field, how to get the ball in important’s people’s hands.”

Many of the Steelers saw Pickett’s struggles, which is undeniable, but the team seems willing to give him another chance with a fresh slate under Smith. It is an all-critical third year for him.