A Pittsburgh Steelers’ win will always feel good. But to have back-to-back wins in which quarterback Kenny Pickett keeps improving makes it even better.
On Sunday, Pickett was a huge driving force behind the Steelers’ 19-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The rookie quarterback passed for 197 yards and one touchdown while completing 57% of his attempts.
Although his numbers don’t jump out of the stat sheet, Pickett didn’t make costly mistakes as PFF even credited him with two big-time throws. He passed for 10 first downs and earned a 90.9 passer rating.
And Pickett’s improvement is consistent in various areas of the game that you can see every week.
“The more that I’ve been playing, I feel like I feel a lot more comfortable going through progressions, knowing how our guys get in and out of breaks with timing purposes and stuff like that,” the Steelers quarterback told reporters following the win.
“Every week I feel like I am getting better and better.”
When you watch the Steelers offense, it’s hard to disagree. Pickett seems more in touch with his weapons as he slowly develops chemistry with his starters and backups.
An extended period of time has allowed Pickett to get the timing aspect of working with his receivers right while learning their body language.
“That’s something I am learning with each guy, and I definitely have it with Pat (Freiermuth), I have it with George (Pickens), and now I am getting there with Diontae (Johnson) because we are getting the reps.”
“It feels good to have that and a lot of confidence that I can let it loose while their back is turned to me because I know they’re coming out of it right when they need to be.”
On Sunday, plenty of playmakers had their chance to make an impact off of a pass by Pickett even in a 28-pass attempts performance by the Steelers rookie. In fact, 10 different players were targeted and nine recorded at least one catch.
Pat Freiermuth – Pickett’s best friend on offense – had a remarkable 57-yard catch in which he showed off his knack for sitting in zone coverage while displaying physicality while earning yards after the catch. He led Pittsburgh in receiving yards with 76.
Pat Freiermuth is the TE Steelers fans have been waiting for since Heath Miller retired. pic.twitter.com/72IVVEYaOl— STEELERS 5-7 (@DevinBushFan) December 4, 2022
“Having the chance to play with him now, I have a really good feel for him on those crucial moments,” said Pickett about the Steelers tight end. “He’s just a great player.”
But the quarterback also found Diontae Johnson in a crucial second-and-eight in the fourth quarter to hold on to the ball a while longer and eventually hold on to the win. That was particularly cool to watch considering it was after Johnson had a costly drop and was close to fumbling the football.
Even Connor Heyward had his big moment with a great catch over his head in the second quarter.
While the Steelers should find ways to get George Pickens more involved, there’s no denying Pickett doesn’t rely on one guy to find open receivers. That’s very telling of his game and something that should have fans excited about his future.
There’s still a lot that the rookie has to prove to know if he’s “the guy,” but the kid is quickly improving. For Kenny Pickett, there’s only one immediate concern on his mind though.
Moving forward, the Steelers quarterback knows they can’t keep playing risky games by failing to score in the red zone.
“That’s something we are continuing to work at, we’ve been working at it,” Pickett said postgame. “We’re close, but close can get us a loss in this kind of game, so we have got to figure that out this week.”
Featured image via Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports