There are no more excuses. If you don’t think the Steelers have a quarterback problem, you’re simply wrong at this point.
All Kenny Pickett had to do was outplay a rookie quarterback who was making his second career start, and he couldn’t even do that. Instead, he turned out one of the ugliest quarterback performances in franchise history, going 14-of-27 for 93 yards (not counting the meaningless last play) and once again failing to find the end zone.
It is the same thing every week. There is no explosiveness. What there is, instead, is complete predictability, as well as unreliability to do anything resembling a franchise quarterback. The Steelers had 13 drives- nine of them lasted five plays or less (excluding the Warren touchdown run). If you are failing to see the issue with Pickett, it’s because you’re choosing not to see it in favor ignoring the obvious to hold onto a pipe dream. He isn’t the future of the franchise- every stat, advanced stat, and eye test all say so. Now the only question is will the Steelers realize that going into this offseason? Or will they do the most Steelers thing possible and run this thing back? For the sake of the fans, let’s hope they get proactive and get a reliable signal-caller, because this can’t be acceptable any longer.
In terms of the rest of the game, the Browns set the tone early. They showed confidence in Dorian-Thompson Robinson, and he was doing all the things they needed him to. He made smart throws, he made plays with his feet, and he made more plays than Pickett to help his team win, especially in the fourth quarter.
The Browns defense was all over the place today. Myles Garrett had a sack on the Steelers’ first play that should have resulted in a safety, but the Steelers got a break and instead went three-and-out. The Browns scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive, where they found a nice balance of intermediate throws and healthy runs before Jerome Ford scored to make it 7-0. The Steelers were completely lethargic the entire first half, and really the entire game, outside of a few chunk plays by Jaylen Warren. Pittsburgh had 249 yards of offense- Warren had 145 of them. The offense went 3-of-14 on third down and had just 12 first downs all day to the Browns 20.
The defense played really well, for the most part. They allowed only 259 yards of offense, and the Browns were 4-of-17 on third down. Chandon Sullivan picked off Thompson-Robinson in the second half, and that looked like a potential turning point in the game-Pickett and the offense ensued to go three-and-out.
Elandon Roberts had a hell of a game, and he’ll certainly be highlighted tomorrow in the Varsity and JV piece. He had 15 tackles, two of which were for loss. He flew all over the field, and was easily the best player on that side of the ball for the Steelers. Trenton Thompson had a really nice game, as well. He broke up the pass to David Njoku in the end zone, he nearly had an interception, and did a good job overall in coverage.
Outside of that, there is really nothing to highlight. Warren and Roberts were great. Pickett isn’t the future. Those are the biggest takeaways from today. I don’t know how many times we have to see this same performance from this quarterback before everyone can agree that they need to look elsewhere next season. The Steelers play Jake Browning and the Bengals next week. And guess what? That’s no longer a game you can just chalk up as a win after what we saw today. Pittsburgh has zero right to under-estimate anyone, especially other quarterbacks. Because at this moment, they have the worst starting quarterback in the league. And for that reason, every game is likely to be a dog fight the rest of the way.