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It’s Time For The Steelers To Trust The Rookie

The 2022 NFL Season has not been kind to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of course, it’s still early but the team currently sits 1-2 after three weeks and last place in the AFC North. The Cincinnati Bengals are fresh off of a Super Bowl Appearance last season where they represented the AFC in February. The Ravens — a year removed from a lost season with countless injuries — look poised for another run at the playoffs under Lamar Jackson. Jackson looks to be in MVP form so far this season.

The Browns have won so far this season under Jacoby Brissett and Kevin Stefanski’s strong leadership. The team is hopeful that a return of their disgraceful quarterback will catapult them even further on the football field (even if they’ve sacrificed all morals to do so). With Watson, Jackson, and Burrow all in the division, one thing has become increasingly clear: the Steelers have the worst quarterback in the entire division. It’s time for Pittsburgh to change direction and react accordingly.

The Steelers Offense Has Been Weighed Down By Mitchell Trubisky In 2022

The Steelers’ biggest problem thus far in 2022 has been on offense. The team’s defense ranks 12th in yards per play allowed, 16th in points allowed, and tenth in scoring percentage allowed. However, on offense, the story is much different. The Steelers’ offense ranks 19th in points scored, 31st in yards per play, and 25th in scoring percentage.

Much of these offensive woes start and end with their quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky — a former second overall pick by the Bears — has failed to improve his game under Mike Tomlin. His completion percentage (60.2%) and Quarterback Rating (77.7) are both the second lowest marks of his career so far, better only than his rookie season. Trubisky’s net yards per attempt (5.07) is the lowest mark of his entire career so far.

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The above chart makes it clear. Trubisky ranks among the league’s very worst quarterbacks. He’s been worth -0.07 expected points added (EPA) per play, ranking 26th in the entire NFL. The failures of the Pittsburgh offense can be directly tied to Trubisky’s failures. This has been felt within the organization as well. According to a report this week by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Trubisky’s time as the Steelers’ starting quarterback may soon be coming to an end.

According to Florio, “there’s a strong push” by the Steelers front office to “turn the page” to Kenny Pickett. Mitchell Trubisky has had just one respectable season in his NFL career, coming in his sophomore campaign. He finished the season as a Pro Bowler with 3,223 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. That season seems to be the ceiling for Trubisky, a ceiling that he doesn’t seem likely to recapture. Even if he were able to, that simply isn’t enough for the Steelers to remain competitive in an AFC Conference overflowing with elite quarterback talent. It’s time to trust the rookie.

Kenny Pickett Represents A New Hope For The Steelers Offense In 2022

The Steelers front office drafted Kenny Pickett 20th overall in this year’s NFL Draft. He should be no stranger to fans in Pittsburgh after he played college football at the University of Pittsburgh. Pickett wasn’t just the Steelers’ first-round pick. He was the very first quarterback selected in this year’s draft. This was certainly well deserved after Pickett passed for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions in his final season at Pitt.

The belief that Mitch Trubisky over Kenny Pickett gives the Steelers the best chance to win makes my head hurt. This offense has too many weapons to be this bad. — Kyle Lindemann (@LuckIsMadeFF) September 29, 2022

The Steelers offense certainly isn’t short of playmakers. Unlike some of his time with Chicago, Trubisky isn’t being limited by a lack of playmakers. Instead, he’s holding back the mass of weapons at his disposal. Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and rookie George Pickens represent a fantastic group of wide receivers. Pro Bowler Najee Harris adds yet another dimension to the offense. This elite supporting cast would only help prop Pickett up as he learns the NFL as a rookie.

Frustrations have been out in the open for fans off the field, but have shown themselves on the field as well. George Pickens has voiced frustrations already this season:

“I just say that because I’m a big guy that runs in the low 4.4s, I always have a step on somebody and my step is naturally longer than the other person, and I’m actually fast. I’m always [going to] have a step and always feel like 99% of the time I’m open even though the ball gets there in the air and [the defender] gets time to catch back up. But I’m open as soon as I get off the line.” George Pickens

Pickens has just five receptions on 12 targets this season. He is yet to log more than three catches in a single game this season despite playing in at least 70% of snaps in all three contests. Chase Claypool hasn’t fared much better, with just 11 receptions on 18 targets despite playing in at least 92% of snaps in all three games so far this season. The truth is that Trubisky simply has not passed the ball effectively enough to unlock the Steelers’ offensive weapons. Pickett has the skill set to do so.

The Steelers Already Know That Pickett Is The Future; The Future Should Be Now

Pittsburgh has little left to lose this season by making the change from Mitchell Trubisky to Kenny Pickett. After drafting him so highly in this year’s draft, a change to their electric young rookie is certain to happen sometime. Unlike the Packers, who drafted Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft, the Steelers do not have a four-time MVP like Aaron Rodgers under center. Instead, they have a first-round pick turned failed starter leading the offense.

The team’s defense will come around. The injury to TJ Watt hasn’t helped, but as the unit meshes down the stretch and gets their superstar back in the coming weeks, the defense will certainly be able to reduce pressure on a rookie quarterback under center. The Steelers aren’t going to win this season with Trubisky under center. They might with Pickett slinging the football around. Not only is Kenny Pickett the future of the Steelers’ franchise but he also represents the team’s best chance to win now as well. It’s time for Pittsburgh to stop wasting time and trust their rookie with the keys to the offense.



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