Pittsburgh-Post Gazette writer, Gerry Dulac, said in his weekly chat, the Pittsburgh Steelers are making a mistake in not benching rookie quarterback, Kenny Pickett. Dulac stated that Head Coach Mike Tomlin is sacrificing winning to develop the young QB:
“You’re compromising what you believe in – winning a game, no matter what – at the expense of developing your No. 1 pick. Wrong method, wrong messages to veterans. The whole season changed with his decision at halftime of the Jets game. Shame shame.”
He believes Pickett should sit behind a veteran to learn the position. However, Dulac’s opinion is outdated. This isn’t the football of the past where defense alone wins championships and quarterbacks learn just by watching the game. Young quarterbacks need time to develop, which has to happen partly on the field.
It’s Pickett Szn for the Steelers
When Tomlin made the decision to bench Mitch Trubisky halfway through the Jets game, the Kenny Pickett era began. Data shows about half of all first-round quarterbacks fail. Additionally, some studies show that it is ideal to sit behind a vet. For example, Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe. However, benching a QB, that is showing promise, can be damaging to their development.
Pickett’s opportunity wasn’t behind a top-tier QB, like Brady. It was behind Mason Rudolph or Trubisky and neither is considered elite. It left Tomlin with a decision – put his eggs in the Pickett basket and allow this young offense to grow together, or start Trubisky.
Tomlin is lying in his proverbial bed and there is nothing wrong with that. The fate of the Steelers in the hands of Trubisky or Rudolph was not better, they did nothing to instill confidence in the team or fans.
The Steelers are not going to the Super Bowl this season and might be having Tomlin’s first losing season. It is not what anyone wants, but it is necessary, with growth comes some pain. The Steelers can continue to refuse to use the word “rebuild” but that is exactly what this is.
Pickett will not be the first newly drafted NFL quarterback to start and struggle. The comparison to Peyton Manning has been made often and is valid. It doesn’t mean that they play the same way, but their first-year stats are similar, giving fans hope. Manning started immediately in Indy, that year the Colts were 3-13 and Manning threw 28 interceptions. Coach Jim Mora Sr. allowed Manning to develop. He encouraged him and built his confidence.
Pickett looks poised and confident. He does not appear to be shaken. According to PFF, Pickett has been the best QB under pressure this season. Tomlin said that he sees Pickett growing and improving in all areas:
“…it’s moving in the direction that we’d like it to. Sure, could it move faster? Absolutely, I don’t think anybody is patient, including Kenny. This is not a patient man’s business. You work while you wait. And that’s what he, and we, are doing, but he’s doing a nice job in general.”
Pickett is not the only Steelers concern. The play calling from offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, has come under fire. Canada has been criticized for not making the adjustments necessary for success and has helped set Pickett, up for failure. After halftime, Week 11, the Steelers were unable to capitalize on opportunities and ground to a halt on 3rd down, losing any momentum.
The Steelers have one of the youngest offenses in the NFL and this is a rare chance for this group to grow together. Tomlin and the Steelers need to stay the course and treat Pickett as the QB of the future.
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