Obviously, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in a quarterback battle that will play out all off-season throughout training camp, and much of the preseason. It’s a longer process and no one expected 2022 first round selection, quarterback Kenny Pickett to come in and be the one right away, not even Pickett himself assumed that. It wouldn’t be the “Steeler Way” to just allow a rookie to take the keys of the franchise so soon. So, why do we need to peg “Winners” and “Losers” just yet in May and the beginning of June?
You’ll probably see constant “Winners and Losers” articles until there’s a winner named in this competition. Let’s take a look at what Kaboly had to say about why he listed Pickett as the “Loser” of the QB battle in the Steel City:
“Pickett being the third-string quarterback throughout was a little surprising considering what the Steelers invested in the former Pitt quarterback. The number of reps wasn’t very different from Trubisky or Rudolph, but the receivers he threw to the most were. That’s the one downside of putting your most talented quarterback as a third-teamer.”
“If you are going to nitpick, you can make an argument that the ball didn’t come out of Pickett’s hands as cleanly at times as Trubisky and Rudolph, but that’s something that could go along with getting the ball out of his hands a lot quicker than he did in college.”
“If this was indeed the learning stage portion of Tomlin’s grand plan, then it makes plenty of sense. Still, you would like to see Pickett have more of an opportunity to shine than he did.”
“Loser … with a huge caveat that maybe we were expecting to see Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett emerge in the spring.”
No, nobody expected to see the Heisman Trophy finalist in the spring. He was the most pro-ready quarterback coming out in 2022, but that doesn’t make him the guy the Steelers are just going to hand out first team reps to in May and June. The Steelers want Pickett to develop and be more pro-ready before handing him the keys to the organization. I mean, let’s be honest about the topic, that is why the Steelers signed Trubisky to a two-year deal, he’s the safety net for the organization. They wanted to make sure when they eventually drafted a guy in the 2022 NFL Draft that he wasn’t going to be rushed into being a Day 1 starter. Don’t forget who was the number 3 in 2004 after he was drafted… future 1st ballot QB, Ben Roethlisberger. It was only because of unforeseen circumstances, Charlie Batch being on IR when then starting QB Tommy Maddox went down with an elbow injury, that Roethlisberger saw the field his rookie season. Who knows, how things would have played out had Maddox never been injured, but I’m willing to bet Roethlisberger wouldn’t have played that year, especially not as early on as he did. He eventually went on to be AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year that season and the rest is history, but not because they handed him the keys during OTAs and Minicamp. I’m not comparing the two, but it’s just the “Steeler way” to allow rookie to learn, grow, and develop behind veteran guys until they’re ready to go.
Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin hasn’t even really made any comments about the current QB battle, besides noting that it’s too early to name a guy. Even answering reporters’ questions about the topic in this manner:
“So, pardon me if I don’t give you what you’re looking for.”
Other coaches have made more in depth comments about how the battle is going throughout OTAs and Minicamp, though.
Offensive Coordinator, Matt Canada has stated about the pecking order that is currently the roll call for the position.
“I think Coach has been very clear that Mitch is No. 1, working with the ones and doing a really good job with that. Mason is No. 2, and Kenny is No. 3 and we are working that way based on experience, based on résumé.”
“We have been clear that this has been a laid-out plan of how we are going to evolve and who our quarterback is going to be for the 2022 season.”
“The plan is so clear that right now, we are just getting better and putting in our offense and putting in a lot of parts of our offense, and we are going to try to evolve and find who does this well, who does that well, who has this intangible thing, who has this tangible thing.”
If this is the plan, that’s okay. Give it time to play out. I get why “Losers” and “Winners” have to be named, football is an ultra-competitive sport, but give it time to play out a little more.
Steelers’ QBs Coach, Mike Sullivan has stated in an interview with Steelers’ reporter Missi Matthews that Pickett is putting in the work and the extra effort.
“Kenny Pickett coming in, is working his tail off, I mean I got to kick him out of the room. I mean he’s always in there putting in extra effort and picking things up.”
This just isn’t a “Loser” mentality. Give the rookie time to pick things up. It’s clear he’s putting in the effort and then some.