The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering a crucial and interesting season with Kenny Pickett at QB. Have they done enough this offseason to compete in the AFC? The Steelers went 9-8 last year and somehow managed to finish with a non-losing record after a late-season resurgence.
Kenny Pickett played in 13 games for the Steelers, going 7-5 in his starts. He didn’t play all that well, throwing seven touchdowns against nine interceptions, but the Steelers were a winning team when he was on the field, so many have looked at Pittsburgh as a surprise team in 2023.
They are playing in a division with three very good quarterbacks in Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson. Has Pittsburgh got a good enough roster to make up for what they don’t have at quarterback? Will this squad be more than just a nine-win, non-playoff team in 2023?
3 burning questions for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2023
Has the clock started ticking for Mike Tomlin?
Mike Tomlin is a great head coach. He’s won over 60% of his regular-season games and has never had a losing season in 16 years as a head coach in the NFL. However, the last time the Steelers won a playoff game was 2016, and Tomlin’s 8-9 playoff record isn’t exactly inspiring.
I’m wondering if the clock has started ticking for Tomlin, really hasn’t coached his teams to much success in recent years. Sure, him not having a losing season as a HC is nice, but that’s not what the NFL is about. Mike Tomlin surely has to make some sort of progress in the postseason in the coming years, right?
Will the Steelers organization continue to tolerate Tomlin winning nine or 10 games per year and going one and done in the postseason? Surely at some point something has to give.
Did the Steelers do enough along the offensive line?
The Pittsburgh Steelers did sport a sub-par offensive line over the last few seasons, but two big additions this offseason should help boost this unit. Broderick Jones is slated to start at left tackle and Isaac Seumalo was a nice pickup from the Philadelphia Eagles. Other players of note along the offensive line are Mason Cole at center and James Daniels at guard.
They do have the players necessary to field an above-average unit, but having something good on paper doesn’t always translate to on-field success. I think the OL for Pittsburgh is especially important since Kenny Pickett is still a young QB.
One of the worst things a team can do is have their young QB playing behind a rough offensive line. The run game has also take a bit of a hit too.
Is Kenny Pickett the answer?
I personally believe Kenny Pickett peaks at Kirk Cousins. I just don’t see “it” from Pickett. What makes Pickett’s situation even more interesting is the absolute gauntlet of QBs in the AFC that he’ll have to defeat if he wants to help this Pittsburgh Steelers’ team to the postseason.
The AFC North itself is a bloodbath with Burrow, Jackson, and Watson, who are all significantly better than Pickett. In today’s NFL, team’s go at the beat of the QB. If a team has a great QB, they’ll be successful; if they don’t, they won’t win much.
How much can Pickett improve next year? It’s clear that he has a limited ceiling and I don’t think any part of his game is particularly great. We’ll see what happens here, but Pickett might end up being the type of QB who needs quite a bit around him to win games.
If Pickett ends up in that QB tier with the likes of Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, and Derek Carr, I would not be surprised.