Is Kenny Pickett a Franchise Quarterback? Mike Tomlin Backs Away from That Term
As the dust settles on the 2022 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are sure of a few things, one of them being that quarterback Kenny Pickett will be the team’s starting quarterback going forward and a big part of their future plans. While he isn’t shy to acknowledge that fact, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t want to put too much on his shoulders.
During Tomlin’s end of season press conference at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Monday afternoon, Tomlin was asked if Pickett is the Steelers “franchise quarterback.” Instead of giving an answer, he decided to take issue with that term, and chose not to saddle Pickett with it.
“You know, I don’t know what you guys mean by franchise quarterback,” Tomlin said. “Is he our QB1? Yes. But there’s a lot of silly responsibility that comes with that term. Everybody thinks they’ve got one, but not everybody has one and all of that. He’s our starting quarterback. I’m not going to saddle him with that cliche that’s overused in our game, in our business too much these days.”
Kenny Pickett grew more and more comfortable within the attack as his rookie campaign progressed. Even after dealing with a pair of concussions, he operated an offense that helped keep the Steelers in the playoff race down to the final week of the regular season.
The spark he added — from taking exception to a hit late in his first start to tossing game-winning passes in successive contests down the stretch — was evident. Those inside the Steelers’ organization are well aware of what he can provide. The national media — and even former Pittsburgh signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger — have recently taken notice of the confidence and smarts he showed throughout, too.
But when it comes to down to whether or not Pickett is a franchise quarterback, that means meaningful comparison to his peers, and statistically, Pickett’s first season doesn’t hold up that well. He finished the season 32nd in the NFL passer rating and 31st in adjusted net yards per attempt.