Second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Steelers threw for 327 yards during his first career NFL start. But he hasn’t reached 300 passing yards since then and has tossed multiple touchdowns in just one start.
With the inept Steelers passing attack reaching new lows during a 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 11, 93.7 The Fan’s Adam Crowley argued on November 20 that it’s time for head coach Mike Tomlin to make a change behind center.
“The Steelers should start [Mitch] Trubisky or [Mason] Rudolph on Sunday,” Crowley wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Let Kenny [Pickett] sit. He’s broken.”
Pickett posted just a 53.57% completion percentage and 106 passing yards against the Browns on November 19. His 106 yards through the air were his fewest in an NFL game where he started and finished (didn’t leave with an injury).
Including sacks, the Steelers had just 77 passing yards versus Cleveland.
Reasons Steelers Should Bench QB Kenny Pickett
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has received a bulk of the criticism for Pittsburgh’s 28th-ranked offense. He deserves plenty of blame, but with each passing week, Steelers fans and media pundits have grown less patient with Pickett.
This season, Pickett has posted a 60.5% completion percentage, 1,722 passing yards, 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in 10 games. He’s averaged 6.1 yards per attempt and 172.2 passing yards per game.
Pickett is ranked outside the top 24 quarterbacks in all of those statistics. He’s tied for 28th in passing touchdowns, 33rd in completion percentage, and 33rd in yards per game.
There are quarterbacks who have barely played ahead or tied with him in some statistical categories. For instance, New York Giants’ Tommy DeVito, who has only played in 4 games, also has 6 touchdown passes.
Pickett’s saving grace is he has thrown just 4 interceptions and has recorded 3 fourth-quarter comebacks.
But slow starts for the Pittsburgh offense is all too common. Pickett has a 69.4 passer rating in the first half this season.
The Sick Podcast’s Mike Nicastro pointed out on X that Mason Rudolph was benched in 2019 despite playing better than Pickett is currently.
“Mason Rudolph was benched for Duck Hodges in 2019. Look at these game logs,” Nicastro wrote on X. “Outside of one game, I’d be thrilled with this right now, given the current QB’s game logs.
Outside of interceptions, Rudolph posted better statistics in 2019 across the board than Pickett has this season.
Why the Steelers Are Highly Unlikely to Bench Pickett
It’s hard to argue Pickett isn’t one one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL right now. But it still seems unlikely that Pittsburgh would make a change behind center.
The situation in 2019 was completely different than the one the Steelers are in now. Pittsburgh drafted Pickett in the first round to be its franchise quarterback whereas Rudolph, a third-rounder, replaced an injured Ben Roethlisberger in 2019.
Maybe Rudolph or Mitch Trubisky could provide the offense a short-term spark. But sitting Pickett does really nothing but hurt his future. And it’s not like Pittsburgh’s championship chances greatly improve with Trubisky or Rudolph.
If anything, the turnovers both Trubisky and Rudolph are likely to have would cancel out the upside they could provide.
“Neither of the other two (Trubisky and Rudolph) have better tools,” argued Pittsburgh Sports Now’s Alan Saunders. “Pickett was their first round pick. Team isn’t going anywhere until they get him right or they give up on him entirely, which isn’t happening this season.”
Benching Pickett would likely be a signal the Steelers are giving up on the second-year quarterback.
It seems highly improbable that the Steelers, an organization known for patience, would determine Pickett is not the answer behind center after 21 starts.
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This article was originally published on Heavy.com