Getty Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett was criticized on X by a two-time Super Bowl champion, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman.
For Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers, the standard is the standard. Apparently that remains the case even after the NFL retirement.
The Steelers are 6-3, but former Steelers offensive lineman Trai Essex made it clear on X (formerly Twitter) after the Week 10 win over the Green Bay Packers that quarterback Kenny Pickett is not living up to his standards.
“Let me start by saying I really want Kenny to succeed,” Essex wrote on X on November 12. “Canada has done him no favors. My problem with No. 8, however, is that it looks the same as last year.
“There’s nothing I can point to in his game and say it’s gotten better. Am I wrong?”
First let me say that I really want Kenny to succeed. Canada didn’t do him any favors. My problem with No. 8, however, is that it looks the same as last year. There’s nothing I can point to in his game and say it’s gotten better. Am I wrong?
— Trai Essex (@TraiDay79) November 13, 2023
Essex continued to tweet about Pickett throughout the week. Half of his rant ended with the hope that he was wrong about the 25-year-old signal-caller.
“I know I’ve criticized Number 8 this week but my sincere hope is that he forces me to eat my size 16 feet until the end of the season… starting this weekend,” Essex tweeted on 16. November.
I know I’ve been critical of #8 this week, but my sincere hope is that he forces me to put my size 16 feet in my mouth by the end of the season…starting this weekend. #Here we go
— Trai Essex (@TraiDay79) November 16, 2023
Essex won two Super Bowls with the Steelers in February 2006 and 2009.
Trai Essex criticizes Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett
Not repeating that mistake was one of Pickett’s bright spots toward the end of his rookie season. Steelers fans cited this as a major reason Pickett would make a big jump in his second year.
But that jump didn’t happen. Statistically speaking, Pickett is arguably a worse quarterback than he was as a rookie.
In 12 games in 2022, Pickett posted a 63.0% completion rate with an average of 6.2 yards per attempt. He also had 7 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
This season, Pickett has a 61.3% completion rate, an average of 6.4 yards per attempt, 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Much of that production came in the fourth quarter, where he owns a passer rating of 101.5. Pickett leads the NFL with three fourth-quarter comebacks.
The fourth quarter is obviously the most important part of the game. But Essex argued that he wants to see Pickett play well for more than just one quarter a week.
“I just want a whole game from Pickett where it looks like he is capable of being the linchpin of an explosive offense,” Essex wrote on X. “Then we can say that at least he is has in itself.” The 4th quarter is great. Whole games are better.”
I just want a whole game from Pickett where it looks like he’s capable of being the linchpin of an explosive offense. Then we can say that at least he has it in him. Q4 is great. Whole games are better.
— Trai Essex (@TraiDay79) November 13, 2023
Pickett has actually been a solid quarterback in the third quarter this season. Overall, he has a 67.5% completion rate in the second half with 3 touchdowns and one interception. His passing percentage in the second half of games this season is 95.4.
But in the first half, Pickett posted a 56.1% completion percentage with 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and a 69.3 passer rating.
Essex’s questions Pickett’s physical characteristics
Many Steelers fans share Essex’s frustration with Pickett’s poor performance in the first half of the season. But the former offensive lineman also attacked Pickett for his physical attributes.
“Serious question: What are Kenny’s physical QB attributes after 21 games?” Can you say he does this consistently well? (And don’t say “victory”).
“I’m just asking for a physical exam because I believe his greatest attribute is leadership.”
After 21 games, what are Kenny’s physical QB attributes and can you say he does them well consistently? (And don’t say “victory”).
I’m only asking for a physical exam because I believe his greatest attribute is leadership.
— Trai Essex (@TraiDay79) November 15, 2023
Former NFL quarterback JT O’Sullivan of YouTube channel The QB School has often pointed out that Pickett’s up-and-down play is his biggest problem.
“You have to admire that [the Steelers] Keep finding ways to win these games,” O’Sullivan said Nov. 3. “I thought Kenny scattered a lot of balls, missed some balls, but he also made some plays (against the Tennessee Titans).
“So it’s the kind of constantly inconsistent atmosphere that makes it really hard to survive in the league when you’re playing week in, week out.”
O’Sullivan added in his analysis of the Steelers offense against the Titans that there was a “better chance” for more from the unit because of the game plan.
“That’s never a good sign for a quarterback,” O’Sullivan said.
Dave Holcomb is a sports reporter who covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions for Heavy.com. Originally from Pittsburgh, Holcomb has covered college and professional sports for media outlets such as Fansided, Rotowire and Yardbarker. More about Dave Holcomb
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