“We need to study more. I don’t think we study enough as a group,” said Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett immediately after his team’s 35-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 30. It was surprising to hear the rookie call out his teammates, as the 24-year-old signal-caller has yet to prove himself in the league, having started his career 1-3 with 2 touchdowns and 8 interceptions and a 66.8 passer rating, according to Pro Football Reference.
And while some observers — including former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart — applauded Pickett’s decision to publicly speak his mind, many fans and members of the media have questioned the wisdom of speaking out. That includes provocative Pittsburgh sports personality Mark Madden, who argued that what Pickett said “was likely spot on. But when you’ve thrown 2 TDs & 8 picks, your teammates are, like, “***k off.”
That said, it’s no surprise that Pickett’s post-game comments were a topic of discussion during Mike Tomlin’s press conference on Nov. 8, during which the head coach rejected the notion that his players aren’t studying hard enough.
Mike Tomlin: ‘Our Guys Study at an Appropriate Level’
“I don’t know what he was referring to there, so I’m not going to try to add any color to an opinion,” Tomlin began. “I believe our guys study at an appropriate level and I’ve seen that continually throughout this process — whether it’s bye or normal game week. I’m not going to add any color to an opinion I’m not highly familiar with.”
Similarly, Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada has also intimated that Pickett was voicing his own opinion.
“Kenny, he’s speaking for himself. We gotta play better. We’ve gotta get things off tape. We can’t make the same mistakes over and over. I think that’s what he was probably speaking to,” said Canada during a media scrum on Nov. 1.
The Steelers Have Been Stripped of a Primetime Game
Indeed the Steelers — currently at 2-6 and in last place in the AFC North — need to play better, or they are going to be awarded a Top 5 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and might have the opportunity to select a “top overall prospect” like Alabama Crimson Tide edge rusher Will Anderson.
Things are so bleak right now that the NFL just took away one of Pittsburgh’s primetime games, switching the Nov. 20 home game against the Cincinnati Bengals from Sunday Night Football to a 4:25 ET kickoff on the same day.
No doubt Pittsburgh (2-6) would also be flexed out of its Monday Night Football (MNF) game against the Indianapolis Colts (3-5) on Nov. 28, except MNF contests are not eligible to be flexed until the 2023 season. That matchup features the two lowest-scoring teams in the NFL, with the Colts averaging 14.7 points per game and the Steelers averaging 15 points per outing.
But first the Steelers need to get past this Sunday afternoon’s home game against the New Orleans Saints. A loss would see Pittsburgh fall to 2-7 for the first time since the 1988 season, when the team started 2-10 before rebounding to win three of its final four games for a record of 5-11.