PHOENIX — This time a year ago, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was buzzing with the excitement that came with the challenge of drafting a rookie quarterback after nearly two decades working with a veteran signal caller.
Neary 12 months after drafting Pitt product Kenny Pickett in the first round, that excitement is still there. The Steelers identified and drafted who they hope will be the future of their franchise, and now, Tomlin relishes the challenge of aiding Pickett’s development as he enters his second year.
“I’m excited about Kenny individually in terms of the growth that he’s capable of making and, and what he’s willing to do to realize that,” Tomlin said at the league’s annual owners meetings in Phoenix. “I think I’m probably more excited about that because I’ve just been around him intimately now for 12 months. There was some anticipation things because of the close proximity that we’ve all talked about quite a bit, but the reality of having worked with him for 12 months, it’s just more evidence of what we should be excited about — his willingness to work, his professional approach, his maturity in processing. It’s exciting.”
Pickett took over the starting job early in the 2022 season when he came off the bench to start the second half of the Week 4 game against the New York Jets. Though he got off to a rocky start with two passing touchdowns to eight interceptions at the bye, Pickett and the Steelers bounced back to go 7-2 after the bye.
Pickett threw only one interception to five touchdowns in that stretch and orchestrated four fourth-quarter game winning drives.
Though Tomlin didn’t elaborate on the decision to retain offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who is under contract through the 2023 season, he did say that continuity in scheme should aid Pickett’s development. And that development will dictate how much they’ll open the playbook for Pickett in 2023.
“I think it’s reasonable to expect that to be significant,” Tomlin said of the offensive continuity. “But we’ll have an opportunity to make it so.”