Pittsburgh Steelers’ Kenny Pickett Continues to Impress, Mike Tomlin Speaks on Quarterback Competition

by Nick Geddes

For the second consecutive week, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett lit up the box score. And for the second consecutive week, Pickett seemed to close the gap in the quarterback competition between him and Mitchell Trubisky.

Whereas Pickett got his work in last Saturday in the second half, this Saturday’s tilt against Jacksonville Jaguars saw him under center much earlier. In just two drives in the second quarter, Pickett completed 6-of-7 passes for 76 yards and one touchdown. He was particularly impressive running the two-minute offense towards the end of the quarter.

Pickett led Pittsburgh on a five-play, 63-yard scoring drive in just 42 seconds. He capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown completion to running back Benny Snell Jr.

Pickett was rolling — until he wasn’t. Head coach Mike Tomlin had seen enough, going with Mason Rudolph for the entirety of the second half. Tomlin said after the Steelers’ 16-15 victory that it was pre-planned for Pickett to get two drives before making way for Rudolph.

“That was all I planned to play him,” Tomlin said. “I would’ve liked to have possessed the ball more in the first half and thus have a bigger body of work. Some things are outside of your control. We gotta get first downs for that to happen. It could be said that, for some of the offensive people that we wanted to take a look at, a lack of conversions limits some of that.”

Will Kenny Pickett Start at Quarterback for Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1?

Pickett, the 2022 first-round pick out of Pitt, has been nearly perfect through two games this preseason. 19-of-22 for 171 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 138.6 passer rating. If you’re paying attention, Pickett has as many incompletions as touchdowns: three. Not too shabby, but is it enough to catapult past Trubisky as QB1?

Trubisky, who signed with Pittsburgh this offseason, has been steady through the first two games. In his one quarter of play in Jacksonville, he completed 5-of-8 passes for 60 yards. The protection didn’t do him any favors, as he was sacked once and escaped trouble on multiple occasions.

Tomlin lauded him for making something out of nothing on some plays while noting that it’s hard to evaluate his quarterbacks given the play of the offensive line.

“I thought Mitch played well,” Tomlin said. “I thought he created and extended some things when there wasn’t much there. But we’ve got to do a better job of protecting him and having some semblance of a run game if you want a fair evaluation, and I’m just being bluntly honest.”

Tomlin has yet to officially name a starter for Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals and said he won’t make a “knee jerk reactions” following any singular performance.

We’ll address depth chart-related things over the next couple of days as we zero in on our next opportunity,” Tomlin said. “I don’t make knee-jerk reactions or statements following the performance.”