“We Thought He Could Provide A Spark For Us” | Mike Tomlin Finally Benches Mitch Trubisky In Favor Of Popular Steelers Rookie QB Kenny Pickett

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Through the first three weeks of the NFL season the Pittsburgh Steelers offense just hasn’t gotten it done. With the team sitting at 1-2 and struggling to move the football against the New York Jets, head coach Mike Tomlin decided to finally satisfy the masses by benching starter Mitch Trubisky in favor of 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett. 

And while the change didn’t lead to victory, it did inject some life into the Steelers’ listless and ineffective offense. In the end, Pickett’s Hail Mary attempt as the gun sounded was picked off by the Jets in their 24-20 road win.

Following the game, Tomlin explained his reasoning for the quarterback change, and in doing so he didn’t commit to either signal-caller for next week.

“I thought we needed a spark. We thought he could provide a spark for us.”

“We did what we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win this game. We’ll do it again. I’d just like to keep it where we are in terms of what transpired here today. We’ll deal with it next week, next week.”

While Tomlin is noncommittal on his starter for next week’s road game at the 3-1 Bills, one would have to believe he sticks with the rookie.

It’s the move that everyone’s been asking for. 

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Tomlin Has To Stick With Pickett: Trubisky Experiment Should Be Over

Tomlin is walking a fine line. The team signed Mitch Trubisky in the offseason as a bridge to rookie Kenny Pickett, but Trubisky hasn’t done anything that jumps off the screen at the position. He’s averaging under 6 yards per completion.

Coming into Sunday’s game that ranked dead last in the NFL, which is unfathomable considering the weapons the Steelers have in running back Najee Harris, wideouts Diontae Johnson, 6-foot-4 Chase Claypool and rookie George Pickens. Throw in the talented but extremely underutilized tight end Pat Freiermuth and this offense is loaded with weapons. 

When Tomlin made the switch, the Steelers had accrued just six first downs and trailed the Jets. Upon entering the game Pickett threw an interception on a ball that should’ve been caught by the big-bodied Claypool, but he tipped it, which led to an interception. Pickett tossed three interceptions, but two weren’t his fault.

The rookie went through some growing pains, but Pickett also gave Tomlin the spark he needed and led the team on two scoring drives as he used his legs for touchdowns, displaying the dual-threat ability we witnessed weekly in college at Pitt in 2021.

 

 

The hometown hero went 10 of 13 for 120 yards and three picks. Solid debut numbers for a rookie who was thrust into action by a desperate head coach. Pickett didn’t wow anyone, but there’s still time for that. If anything, he showed that the moment isn’t too big for him and a full week of reps as the starter could do wonders for him and the Steelers.

Pickett talked about his play in his postgame presser:

“I just played with an edge. That was something I wanted to bring to the table, I do not like to lose, this is not a good feeling. I don’t want it to be a familiar feeling, so I definitely want to get back out there and get a victory and get us back on track.”

“I think there’s a little bit of an edge to me,” Pickett continued. “I want that to rub off on everybody, I want us to have an attitude on the field. I’m excited to get back to work, and excited to get back on track.”

Play-calling Has Been Putrid In Steeltown

Tomlin may need to look at replacing offensive coordinator Matt Canada, whose schemes don’t seem to fit the personnel. Quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan is well-respected around the league. He could be key for Pickett going forward, as they’re together more than the QB and OC.

Steelers fans got what they wanted on Sunday; a glimpse into the future. Now that he’s shaken the nerves of his NFL debut action, he should be much more comfortable next time


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