The Steelers Should Learn From the Jaguars and Start Kenny Pickett Now

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There are very few lessons I want the Pittsburgh Steelers to learn from the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Steelers are one of the most successful and established organizations in the NFL, while the Jaguars are relatively new and have had little success to show for their efforts so far.  However, they do have a leg up in how they handled their rookie 1st round quarterback.

It was clear before the 2021-22 NFL season even started that the Jacksonville Jaguars were not going to be very good.  They had essentially tanked the season before and their rebuild would take time.  They were coming into the season with a brand new rookie quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, who was drafted first overall in the 2021 NFL draft.  With how bad they were most likely going to be, they could have sat Lawrence most, or all, of the season and let him develop over time.

However, they didn't take this route.  Instead they let Lawrence receive his job training on the field, and the Jaguars started Lawrence in Week 1.  He played well, throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns.  He did throw three interceptions, but it was the guy's first professional game.  I'll give him a pass.

In fact, Lawrence started every game for the Jaguars of his rookie season.  The season for him, and the team, was up and down.  For Lawrence there were an even amount of ups as downs, but for the team overall it was mostly down.  However, this allowed Lawrence to come into the 2022-23 season with 17 professional football games under his belt.  And it's showing.

The Jaguars are 2-1 to start this season with a shutout win over the Indianapolis Colts and a 28-point victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.  Two teams in the Colts and the Chargers that still expect to find themselves in the AFC playoff picture at the end of this season.  Lawrence has been decent in every game so far.  He has thrown six touchdowns to just 1 interception on the season and has compiled 772 passing yards in three games.  He looks like a veteran out there already.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers used their first round draft pick this offseason on 24-year-old Kenny Pickett.  He was the first quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.  While not the 1st overall pick like Lawrence, there are still very high expectations for the No. 1 quarterback off the board, especially one taken in the 1st round.  

However, despite Kenny Pickett being older than Trevor Lawrence, the Steelers feel Pickett should take a season to develop under starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky.  At least this plan is what is being reported as of now.  

Even if Trubisky was playing well, I'd still like to see Pickett gain valuable NFL experience.  With Lawrence showing the value of NFL playing time, it'd be nice to go into next season with Pickett at that level.  However, Trubisky is not playing well.  In fact, he's terrible.  

In three games so far he is just 62 of 103 for 569 passing yards and two touchdowns.  He has just one game this season of 200+ passing yards and he barely reached that mark in Thursday's loss against the Cleveland Browns.  And it's not for a lack of attempts.  Trubisky only has a better QB rating than Matt Ryan, Mac Jones, and Justin Fields among starting quarterbacks this season.  

And the 1-2 record is evidence of Trubisky's lack of success.  The Steelers offense has the second to last yards per game and is scoring just 18 points per game so far.  They are ahead of just the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, and Chicago Bears in passing yards per game.  Ultimately, the offense has looked inept with Trubisky under center.  It also doesn't help that Offensive Coordinator, Matt Canada, is not qualified for the job he currently holds.  

So in this case, why not give Pickett the chance to receive real on-the-job training?  Not only could it give the offense a boost this season, but Lawrence and the Jaguars created the blueprint for how it can help the following season as well.  This is Mike Tomlin's first time developing a 1st round quarterback, so why not look to other teams who have done so successfully?  It's time to give Pickett the chance to prove himself on the field in an actual NFL game.


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