Kenny Pickett struggled in the Steelers’ Week 11 loss to the Browns, sparking critics to question whether he is an NFL-caliber QB.
Columnist Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote it’s time to bench Pickett, partially to save him from the team’s absurd offense under offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
“This offense is a laughingstock,” he wrote.
Starkey has a point.
Here are five reasons Pittsburgh must move on from Pickett for their own good.
Pickett was the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft because he was viewed as the most “NFL ready” with the highest floor. However, his play has revealed that his ceiling isn’t high either. The second-year quarterback has missed wide-open targets and maybe had his worst performance against Cleveland, throwing for just 106 yards and zero touchdowns on 28 pass attempts.
The 25-year-old has also been outplayed by several other young quarterbacks recently. Browns rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson looked better in one game than Pickett has in one and a half seasons. Giants undrafted rookie QB Tommy Devito, who has made two NFL starts, had the best game of his career Sunday, throwing three touchdowns in a win over Washington. That’s something Pickett has yet to do in his career.
Canada has received a lot of the blame for the offense’s struggles, and deservedly so. But the start to Pickett’s career has been historically bad. There have been 315 quarterbacks to have at least 500 pass attempts since the NFL merger. Pickett is the only one who has thrown a touchdown on fewer than two percent of his attempts (1.9 percent), per NFL on CBS.
Pickett has quickly earned the nickname “Kenny Comeback” for his knack of coming alive late in games. However, finding a way to stick around in the fourth quarter and squeak out a win week in and week out is unsustainable. That proved true on Sunday. Pickett does not give the Steelers the ability to win a shootout, and that is necessary to win games in this league. Pittsburgh may still make the playoffs, but it will be one-and-done if it faces one of the NFL’s top offenses.
The Steelers invested a first-round pick for Pickett in 2022, but they didn’t give up anything else as a trade up was not needed. It is difficult to come to terms that a first-round pick is a bust, but it happens often. The 2024 NFL Draft class seems to be very talented at quarterback, and Pittsburgh would be smart to select one in the first or second round. If not, the team will be stuck with Pickett for another year and force fans to watch the same painful product.