11/29/22-Kenny Pickett Should Be Steelers Only Focus Down Stretch

By: Mike Pelaia

The Steelers enter the final six games of the season with a 4-7 record. Normally, this time of year, there is only one objective in mind for Pittsburgh, finding a way to get into the playoffs. It’s been that way for the last 18 years.

But this year, it isn’t and shouldn’t be the objective. Ben Roethlisberger is gone and he’s not coming back. The team is now Kenny Pickett’s and the mission over these next six weeks should be simple, develop him. Let Pickett learn on the job and gain as much experience as possible to come back next year ready to lead that traditional December playoff charge.

Through his first eight games, Kenny Pickett has completed 66% of his passes for exactly 1,600 yards. Those numbers aren’t bad. He however has only thrown three touchdown passes compared to eight interceptions.  The good news though, he hasn’t thrown an interception in his last three games and six of the eight interceptions have come in two games, including three in his very first one.

There are things to build upon.  The time to do that is now.

The team can start by continuing to run the football effectively. Over the last three weeks (which coincide with Pickett not throwing interceptions), the team is averaging over 4.0 yards per carry and the Steelers have gone 2-1 in that time.  A healthy run game is a life line for a young quarterback, it must continue. Picket’s quarterback rating has improved in each of those three weeks, from 79, to 85 to 87 in the his latest outing.

Those are the things the team needs to see in the final six weeks of the season. Forget about wins and losses, let Kenny progress.

The more they run the ball, the more the clock is controlled by the Steelers, the more points they score and the less work their defense has to do.  All are important development tools for Pickett.

As he concludes his rookie campaign, a few things to look for will be his increased completion percentage, throwing more touchdowns than interceptions and taking very few sacks, from a statistical standpoint.

Some of the intangible items like throwing the ball away, working through his progressions and calling audibles are all additional items these next six weeks will help the young gun develop.

By this time next year, Pickett should be the leader of a playoff contender and this invaluable experience this year will help get him into that position.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Atlanta Falcons

The Steelers take their 4-7 record on the road this week to face the 5-7 Atlanta Falcons who by virtue of playing in a poor division are in the thick of a playoff race.  The Falcons don’t do anything particularly well but have found a way to win some games they shouldn’t and lose some games they shouldn’t too.

I expect Pittsburgh to march into Atlanta and let their run game do the talking. A running game by committee seems to be the way to go and I hope to see a lot more of Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland. I like the way they run and I’d lessen the work load for Najee Harris.

If the offensive line can continue to allow the Steelers to run the ball at 4.0 yards per clip. Then Kenny Pickett will find time to hit George Pickens, Diontae Johnson (if he doesn’t drop the ball or run backwards) and Pat Friermuth down the field.

The Steelers defense will need to contain Marcus Mariota in the pocket and keep him from running the ball. I’m looking for TJ Watt to break through with a couple of sacks and force Mariota into some ill timed throws and mistakes.

I believe the team is on a bit of a roll and while they are extremely unpredictable week over week, I suspect they’ll go into Atlanta ready to play and ready to win.

Steelers 24  Falcons 16


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