“Gee, I’m still not sure if Kenny Pickett has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL,” says at least one person in every comment section/Twitter thread about Kenny Pickett and/or the Pittsburgh Steelers.
You’re really not sure, like after six-plus games of NFL experience? That’s a shocker.
Anyway, welcome to the modern Steelers fan take but on steroids.
Why steroids? Because Steelers fans are witnessing a new quarterback for the first time in 18 years. Heck, many of them are dealing with a new quarterback for the first time ever. Not only are these fans experiencing the realities of a Steelers quarterback who isn’t named Big Ben Roethlisberger, but they’re doing so in the age of social media, where logic and rational thought go to die and come back as the ghosts of ALL-CAPS rants and steaming-mad emojis. Making matters worse is the fact that the man replacing No. 7, the aforementioned Pickett, is a rookie, meaning, he’s just a baby in the world of NFL quarterbacks. Sure, he’s 24 and “NFL-ready,” but age means nothing if it doesn’t come with experience. And as far as being “NFL-ready,” to quote my high school geometry teacher when asked about extra credit: “There’s no such creature.”
Nobody is NFL-ready until the league makes them ready.
Pickett clearly isn’t ready, and if you don’t believe me, you can check out his small sample size of a career stat line that includes three touchdowns to eight interceptions, along with a “career” quarterback rating of 71.8. If numbers aren’t enough for you, you can also retweet those All-22 videos that the arm-chair Ron Jaworski's of the world incessantly post on Twitter which highlight the many times Pickett missed a wide-open receiver or threw a ball into the ground in the most-recent Steelers game.
It’s not that Steelers fans are mad or upset that Pickett is struggling during his rookie campaign as the starting quarterback. It’s that they have the nerve to act surprised.
Why are they surprised? If you’re one of them, let me ask you directly: Why are you surprised? What did you expect, sunshine and roses after six-plus games? Did you realistically expect Pickett to have a career that started out just like Dan Marino, the fellow University of Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback who the Steelers famously passed on in the 1983 NFL Draft? The Dolphins were lucky enough to not pass on Marino, a man who was head and shoulders above every other quarterback in Miami the moment he signed his rookie contract.
That’s incredibly rare, so rare, in fact, that it’s hard to come up with many more examples of rookie quarterbacks who excelled out of the gate.
Being a rookie quarterback in the NFL is a lot like singing karaoke in a loud bar when you’re unsure of the lyrics to the song you’re trying to perform; you likely don’t have the confidence to sing the song without following the words on the monitor, which makes you look silly and sound off-key.
Pickett is still out of tune after six-plus singing lessons, which is more normal than it is alarming.
The worst thing the Steelers can do right now is pull Pickett out of the lineup in favor of (insert your preferred bandaid of a quarterback here).
Another bad thing would be to use a second-straight first-round pick on a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Steelers must avoid that temptation at all costs. Why? There is no guarantee that this second-straight first-round pick (presumably a top-five selection) won’t be the next Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold.
Also, that’s the kind of panic move a bad organization usually makes.
One thing the Steelers have going for them right now—despite the fact that it infuriates the media and their fans—is their willingness to be patient and allow the process to play out.
There isn’t a more thorough and important process than the development of a young quarterback.
It’s not always pretty, and it’s usually not instantaneous, but if it works out, you’ve bought yourself about 10 years of relevance.
The Steelers have to allow the process to play out before they can be sure of anything regarding Kenny Pickett and his future as their starting quarterback.
I would suggest you do the same thing.