"The Steelers lost to the Browns yesterday, so of course it was a bad day for Kenny Pickett," is what I am sure you're thinking. Saying a losing QB had a bad day is not exactly the peak of observational skill. But why, exactly, Pickett had a bad day is worth discussing. Because it goes far beyond his stat line.
Which was horrific, to be clear. The former first-round pick completed a whopping 53 percent of his passes for a total of 106 yards. With 15 completions on the day that's an average of 3.8 yards per completion. Obviously he threw zero touchdowns. The Browns' defense is very good but for those numbers to come from a second-year QB with 21 starts under his belt coming into the contest is bad beyond words. It's not like Pickett is a rookie anymore or a backup suddenly thrown into action. He's the alleged franchise QB and barely managed to throw for 100 yards over an entire game in decent weather conditions.
But it gets even worse! Behold the video below, courtesy of The Ringer's Benjamin Solak. It's a compilation of all the times Pickett threw past the first-down marker on Sunday. Down and distance didn't matter. Just any time Pickett threw the ball further than the exact amount of yards the Steelers needed for a first down. Give it a watch because, spoiler, it is not very long at all!
Keen-eyed observers will note that only one pass occurred in the first half. In the opening 30 minutes, Pickett threw past the first-down marker once. It is unfathomable for a professional quarterback of any type to do that. As you can see from the rest of the video it's not like things went very well when Pickett did try to push the ball downfield but it doesn't really matter if he's good at it. In order to be a functioning NFL offense he simply has to throw the ball further than five yards from the line of scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada should take plenty of blame for this too, but Pickett is the one making the decisions out there. This 44-second video accurately illustrates Pickett's worst quality that reared its ugly head on Sunday.
You might be thinking this habit reminds you of another QB currently starting in the NFL with questionable movie taste and an aggressive Sopranos vibe-- Tommy DeVito! This is not a flattering comparison for Pickett given DeVito went undrafted and would never have sniffed the field if it weren't for injuries to both the starting QB and the backup for the New York Giants. But it is a pretty accurate one because the Giants basically would not let DeVito throw the ball in his first two starts. He threw only 20 passes against the Raiders in a 24-point loss and then 27 passes against the Cowboys in a 32-point loss; DeVito still managed to record three interceptions in that span, so maybe New York had a point.
But they finally let DeVito off the leash against the Commanders on Sunday and it went well. He threw three touchdown passes while completing 18 of 26 attempts for 246 yards. Why is this notable for Pickett, other than the fact that it's obviously a better stat line? It brought this fun fact to everybody's attention-- DeVito now has more games with multiple passing touchdowns in his career (2) than Pickett (1).
And it gets worse!
So, yeah, Sunday was a real bad day for Pickett. Not only did he play exceptionally poorly in a close game to a divisional rival, the performance of an undrafted rookie from Jersey brought everybody's attention to how bad Pickett has been.
Not a great day for the Steelers. An even worse day for Pickett.