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It’s time for the Steelers to bench Kenny Pickett

The time is now for a quarterback change

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

It isn’t a difficult argument to make that Kenny Pickett is currently the worst starting quarterback in professional football.

After another sub-par performance that saw him go 15-of-28 for 106 yards, the frustrations of Steelers’ offensive players are boiling over.

Najee Harris didn’t hold back in a post-game rant where he said he was “Tired of this sh*t,” referring to the offensive struggles. Diontae Johnson replied to a fan on X in which he corrected the fan for saying he ran the wrong route on an unsuccessful play.

This is after George Pickens was publicly upset, going on an unfollow spree on Instagram, and posting a seemingly cryptic message on his Instagram story. While Pickens denied any of these having to do with football or frustrations with his lack of targets, it was evident there was some anger there.

And all of them have every right to be angry. Of all 350 quarterbacks to throw 500 passes in the NFL, Pickett is the only one with a touchdown percentage lower than two percent. He has thrown for 160 yards or fewer in each of the Steelers’ last three games, and ranks near the bottom of the league in every passing category. Here is a list of stats, and where Kenny Pickett ranks against the rest of the league:

  • Passing yards: 25th
  • Yards per attempt: 30th
  • Yards per game: 31st
  • Passer rating: 27th
  • Touchdown passes: 29th
  • EPA per play: 28th
  • Adjusted EPA per play: 29th
  • Completion percentage over expected: 30th

Not only that, but Pickett is below the league average in success rate, explosive play rate, and air yards per attempt, but above the league average in inaccurate rate.

And if that wasn’t enough depressing stats for you, Matt Ryan and Davis Mills have more touchdown passes over the last two years than Pickett. Mills has thrown one pass this season, while Ryan has been working for CBS and hasn’t started a game since December 17th of 2022.

Some people will look for others to blame like Matt Canada. That’s easier to do, and accept, as his scheme is not good. And yes, Canada does also need to go. However, he isn’t missing open receivers, constantly miscommunicating with his pass-catchers, or throwing directly into the uplifted hands of defensive linemen.

The offensive line has garnered a lot of blame, as well. However, Pickett has a higher time to throw than the league average, per The Ringer.

It’s very evident Pickett isn’t a franchise quarterback, and certainly isn’t the future of the Steelers. Because of that, along with the obvious frustrations from the Steelers’ offensive leaders, it’s time to bench No. 8.

Should it be for Mitch Trubisky? No. While I can appreciate the fact that Trubisky takes more chances downfield, he also has an annoying tendency to think he’s Josh Allen and tries to squeeze passes into mosh pits of defenders.

No, the Steelers should start Mason Rudolph, which is certainly not a sentence I expected to be saying back in August, but here we are. This isn’t to say that Rudolph is the future- he isn’t- but we know who the other two are. Give the reigns to a guy with quite literally nothing to lose at this point of his career, and a guy who has been in this system the longest, and knows it better than the Pickett and Trubisky. Plus, look at his numbers in 2019 compared to Pickett’s this season- they are considerably better.

Will this move lead to a deep playoff run in January? Probably not. But least it would show your clearly-frustrated offensive stars that incompetence will no longer be tolerated, and that changes will finally be made. It also goes without say that Canada should also be fired in stereo with the quarterback change. Throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Regardless of what side of the Pickett debate you were on entering this season, it was mutually agreed that rock bottom would be the exact season he is having. No progression has been shown. If anything, he’s severely regressed. And for that, it’s time for the Steelers to let their actions speak for them and go in a different direction for the remainder of the year- the Kenny Pickett experiment is over.