Oooooh man. All the expert armchair commenters who blasted me during the preseason/training camp and told me MASON RUDOLPH was deserving of reps/PT/QB2 honors over Kenny Pickett, where y'all at? I'm just curious! Never mind Mitch Trubisky, who Mike Tomlin embarrassingly paraded out as the starter and publicly refused to acknowledge the error in judgment.
Credit Tomlin for not being the stubborn bastard so many long-tenured coaches are. I called his post-Week 3 stance to keep Pickett on the bench "the epitome of prideful rigidity." Nice to see someone from Tomlin's seat diagnose a mistake and pivot. I think you can only take so much of bad quarterback play before you crack. By Game 3.5, Tomlin had seen enough of Mitch Tribs. Can't blame him. The dude is not good.
Good for the coach not throwing his awful signal-caller under the bus, though:
Pickett came in for the second half of this past Sunday's loss to the New York Jets and completed 10 of 13 passes for 120 yards to go with two rushing TDs. The problem? Pickett's three incompletions were INTs. However, the first one was a contested deep ball that was reasonably on target, only to get knocked away from Chase Claypool and picked. Pat Freiermuth got his hands on the second one, only to have it squirt away into the arms of a Jets defender. That final INT was on a Hail Mary. So...not nearly the disaster most box score scouts would lead you to believe.
I still don't love the Steelers' o-line but I feel like they've played better than expected. Even to this point, it's easy to tell Pickett has more pocket presence, poise and ability to see the field and rip it compared to Trubisky. This one play from last week, from two different angles, is a fitting summary of Pickett's football IQ and demeanor to suggest he's ready for the big gig:
I've shared this before from ex-NFL QB J.T. O'Sullivan, but look at Trubisky…it's cringe-worthy…and it's no wonder why he completed only 59.5% of his throws, averaged 5.6 yards per attempt and logged a 77.3 passer rating this season:
While Tomlin figured Pickett probably couldn't do much worse than Trubisky, the brutality of Pittsburgh's schedule over the next month will reveal a lot about the rookie first-round pick. To kick off his starting tenure, Pickett has a date with the Bills in Buffalo this Sunday. After that, the Steelers host Tom Brady and the Bucs, followed by road trips to Miami and Philly before a Week 9 bye.
The rest of the AFC North is 2-2 and Pittsburgh is 1-3. They'll be lucky to be anywhere near .500 before their idle week. With Pickett, it at least feels like the Steelers have a chance to capitalize on a young group of talented pass-catchers in Claypool, Freiermuth, Diontae Johnson and dynamic rookie George Pickens.