The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line is the reason that rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett should stay on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, Stephen A. Smith has claimed.
The Pittsburgh Steelers as an offense are struggling right now. They rank 30th in terms of total yards and joint-30th when it comes to yards per play, with quarterback Mitch Trubisky, whilst being deemed the ‘safe’ option at quarterback, seemingly not being too eager to push the ball down the field.
Trubisky came to the Steelers this past offseason as a free agent following his stint with the Buffalo Bills that came after his spell as the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Whilst with the Bears he managed to put up a record of 29-21, threw for 64 touchdowns against 37 interceptions and took them to the playoffs twice.
So it did make sense for him to be the next starting quarterback for the Steelers following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, but when the team drafted Kenny Pickett in the first round of the NFL Draft in April, the whole dynamic changed. It then changed further after Pickett became arguably the biggest star of the preseason across the entire league.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback battle gets fierce
The stats from preseason tell you all you need to know about how close the battle was, with Pickett making a pretty clear case that he could and should be the man to lead the team in the future:
Mitch Trubisky's preseason: 24/34, 283 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, avg 8.3 yards per attempt— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 28, 2022
Kenny Pickett's preseason: 29/36 for 261 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, avg 7.3 yards per attempt
But it appears as though the quarterback isn’t the issue that’s holding the team back this season. That would be the offensive line, which came into the season ranked as one of the worst in the NFL and hasn’t done a lot to change the narrative that they aren’t that great this season either. Giving up 4 sacks and 5 quarterback hits, all of which are forcing Trubisky to get quick, short plays off and not allowing running back Najee Harris to pick up speed out of the backfield.
And that is the reason that Stephen A. Smith believes the Steelers need to hold off on handing the ball to Pickett just yet.
Stephen A. Smith urges the Pittsburgh Steelers, hold off on Pickett
Speaking on ESPN’s First Take (starting at 1:30), Smith made it clear that the problem for the poor offense was not the fault of the skill players, but of the offensive line, and that putting Pickett in would be a bad move for them to make.
Video: Stephen A Smith talks about the Pittsburgh Steelers offense:
The argument could be made that if you put Pickett in now, at least he can learn what his capabilities are with a bad line and how he can adapt to the situation and maybe be better in the future once the Steelers address it through the draft or free agency.
So it is a big decision to be made in Pittsburgh, and one that could have a big impact in how the franchise looks moving forward, so they need to be extremely careful with how they handle it.