No figure on the current Pittsburgh Steelers roster is more under the microscope heading into 2023 than quarterback Kenny Pickett. Steelers fans are expecting a big jump from the Pitt product in year two after a second half of 2022 that saw “KP8” start to figure things out at the NFL level.
But just how big of a jump would satisfy the Black-and-Gold faithful? I’m sure there are some expecting a Burrow-esque leap from Kenny, while others may just be hoping for a better TD-INT ratio. As with most things, the realistic ideal likely falls somewhere in between. Obviously, in Pittsburgh, winning is paramount, but to really take the Steelers to that next level a fairly significant increase in production will be required from #8. But before we look at 2022 quarterbacks who might provide a good benchmark for our study, let’s take a look at Kenny Pickett’s 2022 stats in the 13 games he played.
245 CMP | 389 ATT | 63.0 CMP% | 2,404 YDS | 184.9 YDS/GM | 7 TD | 9 INT
As you can see, there is room for improvement, even considering he missed the majority of two of those games (Tampa Bay; Baltimore 1.0). That’s not to say we didn’t see flashes of brilliance from the rookie, but if you asked Kenny, he’d likely tell you himself that those numbers aren’t up to his standard. So where does he need to get to in 2023 to meet fans’ (and his own) expectations in regards to statistical production? Let’s look at some 2022 QB statlines and evaluate. Remember, I am approaching this from a statistical viewpoint only.
JUST A STEP UP
Mack Jones: 14 gm, 288 cmp/442 att, 65.2 cmp%, 2,997 yds, 214.1 yds/gm, 14 td, 11 int
Ryan Tannehill: 12 gm, 212 cmp/325 att, 65.2 cmp%, 2,536 yds, 211.3 yds/gm, 13 td, 6 int
Despite underwhelming seasons based on expectations, Jones and Tannehill still recorded respectable statsheets in abbreviated seasons due to injury. Specifically in the areas of completion percentage and yards/game, these two QBs provide a blueprint for Kenny to take a step forward in 2023. Now, will Steelers fans be happy with that amount of progress? Maybe not, but Jones and Tannehill both projected as top 18 quarterbacks in yards, yards/game, and completion percentage over the course of a full season in 2022 , and in my opinion provide a decent floor for Kenny Pickett’s 2023 expectations for those fields. You’d definitely like to see more TD passes, though.
A SOLID JUMP
Derek Carr: 15 gm, 305 cmp/508 att, 60.8 cmp%, 3,522 yds, 234.8 yds/gm, 24 td, 14 int
Jimmy Garoppolo: 9 gm, 207 cmp/308 att, 67.2 cmp%, 2,437 yds, 221.5 yds/gm, 16 td, 4 int
When comparing Pickett’s stats to these two players, there are two areas that stand out as needing improvement to reach this level: yards per game and TD:INT ratio. Carr and Garoppolo finished as the 13th and 15th quarterbacks in terms of yards/game in 2022, respectively. Also, Garoppolo was on pace for 26 TD passes if he played the same amount of games as Carr. Both of these quarterbacks had solid TD:INT ratios in 2022. If Pickett could produce similar stats in these areas in 2023, you’d have to feel pretty good about the youngster as the future of the franchise. As an interesting aside, quarterbacks who maintain this caliber of play over the course of their careers are often contentious topics for their teams. Their organizations are always left wanting more from the position but are afraid to cut ties with the player for fear of getting stuck with something worse. Derek Carr is today’s Andy Dalton.
THE LEAP WAS MADE
Geno Smith: 17 gm, 399 cmp/572 att, 69.8 cmp%, 4,282 yds, 251.9 yds/gm, 30 td, 11 int
Trevor Lawrence: 17 gm, 387 cmp/584 att, 66.3 cmp%, 4,113 yds, 241.9 yds/gm, 25 td, 8 int
These two quarterbacks had fantastic 2022 seasons. One defying expectations and one starting to meet them, but no matter the preconceived notions of each player going into the season, their fans were privileged to watch top notch quarterback play for the majority of the year. Staying healthy was a huge boost for both players, and efficient passing (cmp%, yds/gm) combined with good decision making (TD:INT ratio) led each to place in the top 10 quarterbacks of 2022 in most major statistics. For Kenny Pickett to reach these heights, Matt Canada will need to open up the offense for him, and Kenny would need to indeed make a Joe Burrow-like leap in processing the field and taking advantage of plus matchups on the perimeter. A 2023 season that resembles either of these quarterback’s 2022 statlines would be a dream come true for Steelers fans, and would solidify the team’s place as a true contender in the AFC for years to come.
What is your expectation for Kenny Pickett in year two? Would you be disappointed with any of the 2022 statlines above for Pickett in 2023? Answer the poll below and don’t forget to drop a comment! As always, GO STEELERS!
What is the lowest acceptable outcome for Kenny Pickett in year 3 based on the article?
This poll is closed
I’m fine with JUST A STEP UP
I expect at least A SOLID JUMP
Nothing less than THE LEAP WAS MADE
other (comment below)