The starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into the regular season has served as one of the team’s captains every year since 2010. That won’t change this fall, as Steelers players voted quarterback Kenny Pickett a team captain on September 4.
But even though it’s essentially a foregone conclusion that the starting quarterback will be one of Pittsburgh’s captain, it’s still a tremendous honor.
Starting left tackle Dan Moore Jr. made it clear that Pickett isn’t just a team captain because of his position.
“He really has a voice. I talked to a lot of guys about it,” Moore told reporters on September 4. “Kenny has that ‘it.’ I don’t know what ‘it’ is, but he has it.”
Moore did his best to elaborate on what ‘it’ is, saying, “You can’t describe ‘it.’ You either have ‘it’ or you don’t.”
He also said that he realized immediately that Pickett had ‘it.’
“Just the way he approaches each day, the way he grasps the offense.”
Steelers Players Vote QB Kenny Pickett Team Captain
Quarterbacks not named team captains are much rarer than the ones who are. Typically, rookie quarterbacks (and sometimes journeyman signal callers who aren’t expected to serve as starters very long) are the only ones not named team captains.
The last time Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback wasn’t a team captain was in 2010. That was the year Ben Roethlisberger sat out a four-game suspension to begin the season.
Even still, Pickett earning a captaincy for the Steelers is a big deal.
The Steelers don’t name 7-8 players captains like some teams do. Instead, they keep their captains to 4-5, which makes the honor more exclusive.
This season, Pickett is Pittsburgh’s only captain on offense. That alone confirms what Moore said about the team believing in Pickett.
On defense, the Steelers voted veteran pass rushers Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt team captains. Safety Miles Killebrew will be the team captain on special teams.
Pickett’s ‘It’ Factor
Steelers fans witnessed a bit of Pickett’s apparent ‘it’ factor during his rookie season.
While he didn’t post very good statistics, throwing for 7 touchdowns versus 9 interceptions and averaging only 6.2 yards per pass in 2022, Pickett led the Steelers on 4 game-winning drives and 3 fourth-quarter comebacks.
One of Pickett’s best games of his rookie season came against the Colts in Week 12 on Monday Night Football. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 174 yards and rushed for 32 additional yards.
Pickett didn’t have a touchdown but led the Steelers to a 16-3 halftime lead. Then trailing 17-16 entering the fourth quarter, Pickett orchestrated a 75-yard drive to give Pittsburgh back the lead for good.
On Christmas Eve, the rookie signal caller found receiver George Pickens for a 14-yard touchdown to put the Steelers ahead of the Raiders, 13-10, with 46 seconds remaining.
He repeated nearly the same feat with a 10-yard toss to running back Najee Harris with 56 seconds left against the Ravens the following week. The score moved the Steelers ahead of their arch rival, 16-13.
In addition to those winning drives, Pickett only threw 1 interception in his final 152 pass attempts. All of those passes came in must-win games, as Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes were on life support by Thanksgiving last year.
Whatever ‘it’ is, Pickett appears to possess ‘it.’
Moore may have a little bit of ‘it’ himself. Although he wasn’t named a team captain, Moore held off first-round pick Broderick Jones for the starting left tackle spot. Moore will be responsible for blocking Nick Bosa in Week 1.