The Pittsburgh Steelers have officially made a change at the quarterback position, naming rookie Kenny Pickett as the starter under center after replacing Mitch Trubisky at halftime of the Steelers Week 4 loss to the New York Jets.
Trubisky, who started the first four games of the regular season, struggled in the first half against New York, completing seven of 13 passes for 84 yards and an interception. Pittsburgh managed just six points in the first half, prompting head coach Mike Tomlin to turn to Pickett in the second half.
The move seemed inevitable at some point this season, but Steelers great Ben Roethlisberger was surprised by the timing.
STEELERS MAKE CHANGE AT QUARTERBACK; MIKE TOMLIN PICKS THE ROOKIE
“I was surprised. To me, the whole offense was stagnant,” Roethlisberger said this week on his podcast.
“They’re not running the ball real well,” he continued. “There’s nothing really going on. But to me, when you pull him [Trubisky], I get what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to create a spark. Which, I think it happened … When you put someone new in there at a position like that, it’s going to create some sort of a spark. It’s going to create energy. It’s going to do that.”
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Pickett did provide a spark for Pittsburgh in his one half of play against New York, scoring the Steelers’ only two touchdowns of the game on the ground in a 24-20 loss.
However, there were struggles for Pickett as the rookie threw three interceptions in 13 attempts, though one of his interceptions was on a last-second Hail Mary.
“But in my opinion, I didn’t know that it needed to happen,” Roethlisberger said. “But Mike’s [Tomlin] the coach. He did it.
“I heard that the stadium was crazy loud. It obviously energized the defense, the fans, the offense. Minkah [Fitzpatrick] gets that pick-six. Everything’s kind of falling into place.”
Pickett’s first start will be a tough road game against the 3-1 Bills and a defense allowing the fewest passing yards per game. The Bills have surrendered three touchdowns through the air while collecting seven interceptions.