Why Are Steeler Fans Already Giving Up on Kenny Pickett?

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The Pittsburgh Steelers took another tough loss this weekend, this time on primetime television Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins.  Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett led the team down the field on the final drive of the game but an interception in the endzone sealed the 16-10 for the Dolphins.  Aside from the interceptions, I thought it was a fairly solid performance out of the rookie, given the circumstances of the primetime matchup and state of the offense.  However, Steelers fans seemed to think much differently, which has left me very confused.

Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like every Steelers fan was clamoring for the team to move on from quarterback Mitch Trubisky.  He was signed in the offseason to be the starter, and was ultimately named as such right before the start of the season.  The play we saw out of Trubisky to start the season was certainly uninspiring, but as I've mentioned before, I don't feel as if it was all his fault.  Especially with the horrible play-calling by offensive coordinator Matt Canada

If I could step on my soapbox for just a few moments...

I feel as if every week, I'm watching the same offensive game over again from the week before.  The plays are the exact same.  There's no imagination.  

Nearly every first down is a run up the middle (usually for 1-2 yards).  When it's a pass play, wide receiver Diontae Johnson runs a 10-yard curl.  On the other side, George Pickens runs a streak.  If it's not that combo, it's a Kenny Pickett rollout where he has one option, a receiver sprinting towards the sideline.  I'm pretty sure every game has featured the shovel pass to the tight end at some point.  Only when their backs are against the wall, as they were on the last drive Sunday night, does the playbook seem to open up even just a little bit.  

But I digress.  I've talked enough about my disgust for Canada so far this season and I have yet to see anything that will change that as the season progresses.  

Regardless, the team made the switch to go to their first-round pick as their quarterback mid-way through the game against the Buffalo Bills.  You would think those same fans would be happy about Kenny getting the opportunity, right?  Wrong.  

After just three games played (THREE!), I'm already seeing people say that Kenny is a bust, referencing his poor play as to why.  Sunday was the first game we saw Pickett both start and finish.  And now we're already writing him off!  This is just absolute lunacy to me.

How can you possibly say a quarterback doesn't have what it takes to succeed in the NFL after one full game played?  There's a learning curve that comes with any position in the NFL, but arguably most so at quarterback.  He is going to take some time to develop.  That's the whole reason why they made the switch to Pickett as early as they did in the season.  More experience can only help him in the long run.  However, with that comes growing pains.  That's part of how this whole process works.

Very few quarterbacks hit the ground running as soon as they start in the NFL.  While most people would like that to be the case, it just realistically isn't.  Take Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, as an example.  He was the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft for the Indianapolis Colts.  He started Game 1 for the Colts, expected to be as NFL-ready as any other quarterback in the draft.  Yet, he led the team to a 3-13 record that year and finished the season with 28 interceptions and a 56% completion rate.  It just doesn't happen immediately.

Now, I'm not comparing to Kenny Pickett to Manning by any means, nor do I expect him to have a similar career.  But, if a Hall of Famer wasn't able to have an effective first year, why are we expecting such out of the 20th overall pick?  Not only does he have the offensive play-calling going against him, but the schedule hasn't been a piece of cake either.

As I wrote about earlier this year, one of the main reasons I felt the team should wait before making the switch to Pickett was to avoid the tough schedule the Steelers started the year with.  In his three games so far, Pickett has gone up against the Bills (statistically the toughest team against quarterbacks in all of the NFL so far), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Dolphins on the road on Sunday Night Football.  That's a very tough stretch to start your career.  And it doesn't get any easier as he now gets to go up against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles this week, who sport one of the toughest secondaries in the league.

I know we were spoiled by having Ben Roethlisberger as our quarterback for the past several decades, but we need to have a little patience here.  This is a process.  Pickett isn't going to step in and magically lead the team to the playoffs.  Unfortunately, football doesn't often work like that.  

His decision-making could use some improvement considering the high interception rate thus far, but that comes with the territory.  We can't keep waffling opinions back and forth each week between Kenny and Trubisky when one plays bad.  The fans that wanted Pickett to start this early in the season were granted their wish.  It's time to lower those first-year expectations and let him grow and develop into what we can only hope will be the next Roethlisberger.  To call him a bust and deem him not able to cut it in the NFL after one full game is just ridiculous and has left me absolutely baffled.