It’s paramount that the relationship between a quarterback and his head coach is solid, especially in a QBs formative years. And that’s what Kenny Pickett has with Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
And though the relationship came naturally, it was something Pickett had to earn through a work ethic.
“You have to show up and be consistent every day with your work and how you go about your business,” Pickett said on the January 19 Pat McAfee Show. “But once we started having success on the field, you just build that tight bond. We spent a lot of time together preparing, so when you do that, you become tighter and tighter. Football is a special game, and you create a lot of great bonds. We’re definitely building something special, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
Pickett also sang Tomlin’s praises on a podcast of his teammate’s earlier in the week.
“[Tomlin’s] just such a genuine guy,” he said on the January 17 episode of Not Just Football with Cam Heyward. “What you see is what you get from him, and he’s the same every day, which, as a player, I can appreciate that.”
Pickett is blown away by Tomlin’s approach to his role. “He’s consistently so wired and locked in. I don’t even know how it’s even humanly possible, like five or six in the morning when we get in there, the guy’s just ready to go. He loves the game, he loves his job, he loves the guys on the team.”
Being a rookie under a coach like Mike Tomlin has been invaluable for Pickett.
“He really kind of took me under his wing… From a preparation standpoint, because he’s a defensive guy, I loved picking his brain,” said Pickett. “He caught onto that, that I was really big into preparation. We gelled really well together in that aspect.”
Pickett explained how Tomlin helped him add and shape his routine, suggesting when, what and how to watch tape to get a better feel for their upcoming opponent.
“We had some failures early on, but he always kept my head high. He always kept me pushing forward.”
Remaining confident and steadfast helped Pickett greatly as the season wore on.
“And then we had success at the back end season,” he said. “I think it really stemmed from having those failures and learning from mistakes. And he was kind of showing me the way as we went.”
“I got nothing but love for Coach T, man, that’s my guy. I’m going to go to war for him every day.”
Kenny Pickett and Steelers Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada
The first fourth of Kenny Pickett’s season at the helm of the legendary franchise’s offense was rough. The rookie threw two touchdowns to nine interceptions for a passer rating of 66.8 in his first four games, and the Steelers were 1-3.
But Pickett came away from the November 6 Week 9 bye a different quarterback. The Steelers finished the second leg of their season 7-2 as Pickett threw for five scores to only pick for an 84.4 passer rating.
Though the conservative offense lacked an oomph, Pickett was improving and taking care of the football and Pittsburgh was winning games.
“I think [the offense] really caught stride after the bye week, and we’ve figured out what it’s gonna take for us to win and what that recipe looks like,” Pickett said on Cam Heyward’s Not Just Football podcast on January 17.
And if Steelers Nation had any doubt whether Mike Tomlin was sticking with offensive coordinator Matt Canada, Pickett pretty much answered that: “I’m excited to continue to work with him this offseason.”
It was reported (and confirmed by the team) the day after Pickett’s interview that the Steelers were retaining the embattled coordinator.
Pickett is confident that with “more explosive plays,” the offense could turn itself around.
“We continue to grow as a team and grow as an offense, but we just need to take that jump into year two,” he said. “We need more explosive plays, and he’s doing a great job. I’m trying to figure out what we need to do to get those and put up some more points.”
Hopefully, a full offseason with Kenny Pickett getting first-team reps and Matt Canada learning from the past will take the Steelers will they need to go.