All season long, former Steelers offensive lineman Trai Essex has been highly critical of Pittsburgh’s current players and coaches, with his targets ranging from starting running back Najee Harris to offensive coordinator Matt Canada. On Monday, shortly after Pittsburgh’s 24-17 comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts, he offered his assessment of Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, who was making the 7th start of his young career.
“Gotta give Pickett a solid B on this performance. He played winning football but he did leave some plays out there. All in all, it is good to see him improving week to week,” tweeted Essex, a Steelers third-round pick in 2005 who won a pair of Super Bowls with the organization before he retired after the 2012 season.
Yannick Ngakoue Sack ‘Entirely on the QB’
No doubt, one of the plays that Pickett left on the field was the 12-yard sack that Pickett absorbed from Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in the second quarter. That sack took the Steelers out of field goal range and forced them to punt on fourth down.
Mitchell Schwartz, a former Browns and Chiefs offensive tackle who won a Super Bowl with Kansas City in 2019, took to Twitter to illustrate how Pickett was responsible for the 12-yard loss, arguing that the play was perfectly blocked by the offensive line.
“It’s entirely on the QB for having no idea he’s hot and holding onto the ball,” concluded Schwartz.
That said, Pickett did produce the best passer rating of his career against the Colts (87.5), having completed 20 of 28 passes for 174 yards. More notably, he hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 30th against the Eagles.
Colts WR Pays Tribute to Late Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins
Prior to the game, Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell wore a T-shirt that paid tribute to late Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was on track to be part of Pittsburgh’s QB room for a second consecutive season before he was struck and killed by a dump truck on April 9 of this year.
Campbell, 25, starred alongside Haskins at Ohio State before being selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. In fact, Campbell had his best college season in 2018 while Haskins was Ohio State’s quarterback. That year he had 90 receptions for 1,063 yards and a dozen touchdown catches.
After Haskins’ death both Adam Schefter of ESPN and former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt came under fire for comments made in the wake of the accident. For his part, Schefter highlighted Haskins’ struggles in the NFL while delivering the news of his death.
Meanwhile, Brandt made what he later admitted were careless and insensitive remarks regarding Haskins — comments that Steelers captain Cam Heyward described as “disgraceful.”
Campbell reacted to Brandt’s words as well.
“Excuse my language … but are you (expletive) kidding me,” Campbell tweeted in response to the former NFL exec. “There’s no way you say something like this in this moment. All the people grieving right now … and this is what you say?”
As for Monday night’s game against the Steelers, Campbell had two catches for 14 yards. Thus far this year, the Ohio State product has 46 receptions and 454 yards and three touchdown catches, as per Pro Football Reference.