For fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the question everyone has heading into the 2023 regular season is essentially the same:
Is Kenny Pickett the long-term answer at quarterback?
There are some who are devout Pickett fans who never doubted such a blasphemous fans. Then there are those who remain skeptical if Pickett truly is the next franchise quarterback for the black-and-gold.
As is with many things, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle of those two polar opposite ends of the spectrum.
Pickett’s play in the back half of the 2022 season provided plenty of hope for the future, but the former Pitt product still has plenty to prove in his sophomore season. When ESPN posed 32 quarterback questions for every NFL team, the question of Pickett being “the guy” was what Dan Graziano attempted to answer.
Is Kenny Pickett the long-term answer?
Did you know that, over the second half of the 2022 season, Pickett went 6-2 and ranked eighth in the NFL in Total QBR? Well, I didn’t until I just looked it up. He wasn’t particularly dazzling during this stretch — a 59.4 completion percentage and just five touchdown passes over that stretch aren’t the kinds of numbers that get them to bust out the chisels in Canton. But it would be silly to say he didn’t show progress as the season went on.
The Steelers’ passing game was one of the worst in the league, with a seems-like-a-typo total of 12 touchdown passes on the season. They didn’t change coordinators — Matt Canada is returning — and the big addition to the receiving corps was a 30-year-old Allen Robinson, who has caught a total of 71 passes over the past two years. So it might be that the Steelers aren’t in position this year to figure out whether Pickett is the long-term answer. But if they continue to see the kind of tangible progress he showed in the second half of his rookie season, that’ll at least be something.
What was the most interesting aspect of Graziano’s answer wasn’t how putrid the Steelers’ passing attack was at points last season, or the fact Matt Canada is returning for a third year calling plays. No, the most interesting aspect was how the ESPN Senior Writer pointed to the fact the fan base might not find out if Pickett is the answer in 2023. In other words, does he have what is necessary for him to succeed and prove his long-term value to the franchise.
It is at this point where fans of the Steelers have to hope Pickett is capable of proving himself, even with the current state of the offense, and it doesn’t matter what side of the “Pickett Fence” you reside.
What do you think? Do you believe Pickett will be able to prove his worth in 2023, even with the weapons which have been acquired this offseason? Or will the fans not truly know until 2024 or beyond? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the remainder of the 2023 offseason.