It was never a matter of if, but when. When would Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3) head coach Mike Tomlin pull the trigger on Kenny Pickett?
We got our answer on Sunday — albeit with not much notice. Down 10-6 in the third quarter against the New York Jets, Tomlin benched the incumbent Mitchell Trubisky for the 2022 first-round pick out of Pitt. It’s a sight that Steelers fans oughta get used to, as the Kenny Pickett era is here — and it’s not going away. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Pittsburgh is expected to move forward with Pickett under center.
Tomlin made the switch to Kenny Pickett to provide a “spark” to an offense that has scuffled through four games this season. He declined to commit to Pickett as the starter after the game, saying he would cross that bridge in the coming week.
“We just thought we needed a spark,” Tomlin said, via ESPN. “We didn’t do much in the first half, not enough offensively and thought he could provide a spark for us.
“I’m not going to talk extended as we sit here. We did what we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win this game. We’ll do it again. But I like to just keep it where we are in terms of what transpired here today. We’ll deal with next week, next week.”
Kenny Pickett Provides Short Spark for Steelers
Provide a spark Kenny Pickett did — for a couple of drives that is. Pickett guided Pittsburgh on two scoring drives, both ending with him running into the end zone for six. Pickett is the first quarterback to rush for two touchdowns in his debut. Through the air, he completed 10-of-13 passes for 120 yards. All three incompletions were interceptions, though two went off the hands of his receivers and the other was a Hail Mary attempt. The Jets (2-2) defeated the Steelers, 24-20.
“No, I was never told that,” Pickett said when asked if he knew a switch was coming. “Just Coach came in at halftime and said I was going. I just kind of put all the preparation in and prepare like the starter. I spent a lot of time at the facility to get ready.
“… You don’t get a lot of reps, but that’s why I have to be tuned in really mentally, go through every single read that Mitch was getting in practice, in game, watch the film as if I’m the one playing so I could be prepared if my opportunity did come, which it did today.”
Pickett wasn’t the only one in black and yellow surprised.
“It’s a tough deal,” Trubisky said. “It’s definitely not what I wanted. Not what I expected. But that’s part of it.”