The Steelers have a severe problem with their young quarterback. Kenny Pickett has struggled so far this season with various issues, but none more concerning than his ability to play in structure and the sustainability of it all. He has not shown the ability to stay in the pocket and win consistently there, and despite his magic out-of-structure, it comes with a caveat.
Kenny Pickett is creating pressure for himself. Now, the offensive line has not passed off stunts well, and that is undoubtedly an area where Pickett has some justified questions on whether his offensive line can hold up. But this issue of bailing out of clean pockets is not a new one. For Pickett, it goes back to his days at Pitt. He would run into sacks, and Pickett is doing just that this year, too.
While that issue came up during his rookie season, Pickett has looked erratic and jumpy all year from the pocket. It’s the single most significant issue he’s facing. Pickett loves to spin out of the pocket and try to escape through the backdoor, where Pickett turns his back to the defense. That is what happened on the team’s failed fourth-and-1 play. While the play call is questionable, Pickett did have Calvin Austin III open on the backside dig, and Connor Heyward peaked open after the initial snag route. Pickett fails to see all of it because he tries to spin out of the pocket, and not only does he get sacked, Pickett suffers an injury.
Will break this one down later for the YT crowd but the backside in-breaker is wide open vs this C2 look.
And yes, the protection is more than fine to get there. Can't see it with your back turned tho. pic.twitter.com/rLGnVloy6d
— Derrick (@Steelers_DB) October 2, 2023
According to Pro Football Focus, Pickett is responsible himself for eight of the 11 sacks the team has allowed this year. To say the least, that’s not good enough for a quarterback. He has some happy feet, probably partly because he does not trust his offensive line, but it’s not a new phenomenon with Pickett. The issues showed up from his college tape to now. Pittsburgh needs better pocket management from Pickett moving forward. Even when something is there in the offense, Pickett’s hastiness to bail on clean pockets is hurting the offense dearly.