The Pittsburgh Steelers have have named their young rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, who made his first NFL appearance against the New York Jets in Week 4, as their Week 5 starter against the Buffalo Bills. Head coach Mike Tomlin made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon.
Mike Tomlin announces Kenny Pickett as the new starter: pic.twitter.com/GurIhOm8EI
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) October 4, 2022
Pickett, 24, was the Steelers' first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft. They'd signed former Chicago Bears/Buffalo Bills QB Mitch Trubisky to be their starter over the offseason, but with Pickett waiting in the wings, it was clear Trubisky was just a short-term solution, and wasn't in their long-term plans.
The short-term ended for Trubisky on Sunday, when Tomlin benched him after halftime in what would end up being a 24-20 loss to the Jets. Pickett started the second half, and completed 10 of 13 passes for 120 yards by the end of the game, but also threw three interceptions — one of which was on his very first drive. He also had six carries for 15 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
As for why Tomlin decided that was the moment to get Pickett his first NFL action, he said after the game that the team needed a "spark." However, he wouldn't name Pickett as the starter at that point.
Obviously things changed for the Steelers with some reflection. Everyone already knows what Trubisky is, so why not try out the new guy who could give the team a better chance to win? It's better to embrace the future than stand firm with Trubisky and say "this is fine" when there are other options available.
Steelers fans might be high on Pickett right now, but Pittsburgh's upcoming schedule is extremely unforgiving. He'll make his first NFL start against the Bills, one of the league's best teams, and then face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6, the Miami Dolphins in Week 7, and the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8. All four of those teams are killers. But at least at the end of that gauntlet, the Steelers will get to take a little time to relax, since they have their bye on Week 9.