The Kenny Pickett Era in Pittsburgh Has Officially Begun

(Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

Remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for continued Pittsburgh Sports coverage: 

Well, it's officially official.  On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers depth chart was released and Kenny Pickett was atop the quarterback list.  After entering last week's game against the New York Jets in the 2nd half in place of Mitch Trubisky, there was speculation whether this move would stick going forward.  As it turns out, it has, and the Kenny Pickett era as the Pittsburgh Steeler's starting quarterback has now begun.

When the team came out of the locker room at halftime, Pickett was spotted wearing his helmet, while Trubisky was seen with a hat on.  That's when things took off.  My phone started buzzing as group messages were filled with hopeful Kenny texts.  Twitter went crazy thinking this was the moment we'd get our first look at the Steelers 2022 1st round draft pick.  The move many have been waiting for did come to fruition, and although the outcome of the game isn't what fans would've hoped, the buzz surrounding the move was palpable the rest of the game.

While Pickett's stat line in the game may not wow anyone, it's the intangibles that came with the quarterback switch that were the most noticeable.  The offense really seemed to come to life once he entered the game.  And players even said as much.  Wide receiver Diontae Johnson talked post-game about how there was a different energy throughout both the team and the offense once Pickett took over.

Pickett finished the game 10/13 for 120 yards and three interceptions.  Although three interceptions doesn't look great on the surface, you could easily argue that the first two were not his fault.  And the last one was on a Hail Mary at the end of the game, so that should be taken with a grain of salt.  The biggest contributions from Pickett were two huge rushing touchdowns.  His ability to move with his legs is something this offense has desperately needed, and unfortunately we did not see much of that out of Trubisky.

Pickett entered the game with the Steelers down 10-6.  After throwing an interception on his first drive, the next two drives were capped off with rushing touchdowns by the new QB1, leading to a 20-10 Steelers lead.  The defense ultimately let the rookie's debut comeback slip away with the inability to stop the middling Jets from scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.  So although there were three interceptions on his part, Pickett was not the reason the Steelers failed to win this game.  Rather, he very easily could've been the reason they won it, with a little help from the defense.

While Mitch Trubisky seems to be a great guy, the play we saw from him on the field just wasn't getting the job done.  And I do feel like he was put in a bad spot by being told he'd be the starter when he signed, only to see the team draft a quarterback in the first round just a few months later.  But evidently, coach Mike Tomlin saw the season slipping away and felt justified in making the move now before it was too late.

I still am a little skeptical in making the move now, however.  As I talked about in my article last week, the Steelers' upcoming schedule is downright brutal.  They play the Buffalo Bills this weekend, followed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins.  That is an extremely tough stretch for a rookie quarterback to face off against, while still getting his feet wet in the professional game.

The one question I have is, if Pickett supposedly was not able to win the starting job from the onset, are we sure that he is now ready to be the guy after only three games of learning from the sidelines?  I guess we will find out soon enough.  What I do know, though, is that so far this season, Buffalo has been the most difficult opponent for starting quarterbacks.  Therefore, Sunday's game will be a true test for Pickett in his first career start, and will be a great barometer to see what he is capable of providing to this team now.  

I urge fans not to panic or freak out if these next several games don't go well for Pickett.  This is a long-term move, not a short-term one.  The main thing I'll be looking to see is a spark in this offense and I'm hopeful to see an offense that is much more efficient and smooth than the one I've seen so far.  This will be a great learning experience for him and I can only hope it goes a long way towards Pickett being the Steelers quarterback for many years to come.