Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett hasn’t taken the leap many would’ve liked to see or expected in his second year in the league. In fact, you could make an argument that Pickett has regressed from where he was at the end of the 2022 season, as he just hasn’t been playing good football lately.
But one area where Pickett does thrive is in the fourth quarter, as he’s led three fourth-quarter comebacks this season and seven game-winning drives in his career. That success in the fourth quarter leads former Steelers cornerback and current analyst Ike Taylor to believe that Pickett will turn his season around. On the Bleav in Steelers podcast, Taylor said that Pickett is “built for” pressure situations like the end of the season and that he’s going to hit his stride.
“Kenny is built for these so-called pressure situations,” Taylor said. This is when I think Kenny’s gonna hit his stride. Late in the season, this is perfect for Kenny to start balling out right now. He’s never been a start-fast kind of guy,” he added. “I think that light switch is about to come on for him. As far as Kenny in pressure, Kenny always ran into the fire and not away from the fire if the kitchen was hot.”
Pickett was much better in the second half of last season, after the team’s Week Nine bye. But he hasn’t had the same post-bye week success this season. And while the Steelers won in Week 10, it was one of Pickett’s worst performances of the season. He made some questionable throws and with the Green Bay Packers secondary down a starting safety in Darnell Savage and two starting corners in Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes, Pickett only managed to throw for 126 yards.
The good news is that Pickett’s managed to avoid turning the ball over. He hasn’t thrown an interception since Week Four, and the Steelers are a much better team when they don’t turn the ball over, as they are 20-2 since 2019 in games without a turnover. With their defense managing to get turnovers in crucial spots and keep the score low, the Steelers have been able to win.
But for this team to have real success and make a run in the postseason, Pickett has to be better. Maybe he’ll play better under pressure late in the season with the Steelers looking to make a playoff push as he does late in the fourth quarter when the team needs a win, as Taylor suspects. But there’s little doubt that he needs to pick it up late in the season for the Steelers to become a legitimate contender.