Madden Monday: Steelers ‘have to stay with (Kenny) Pickett now’


In a perfect world, the Pittsburgh Steelers would’ve inserted Kenny Pickett into a more advantageous situation than he found himself Sunday.

He wouldn’t have been put into a game with the team at 1-2, trailing at halftime, staring at a four-game slog of a schedule against teams that are currently 12-4.

But it is far from a perfect world for the Steelers. In fact, it is decidedly imperfect.

Hence their 24-20 loss to the lousy New York Jets.

So when the Steelers found themselves down 10-6 at halftime, Mike Tomlin felt he couldn’t wait any longer and he replaced Mitch Trubisky with Pickett.

Even though Pickett wasn’t great, he had his moments. If Trubisky was just a placeholder for Pickett, then Trubisky has given up his place. Pickett was always the quarterback of the future. And now, the future is the present.

During this week’s “Madden Monday” podcast, Mark Madden of 105.9 The X and TribLIVE said that once a first-round draft pick quarterback goes into the game, there’s no turning back.

More Steelers news

• Airing of Grievances: Defensive demise, ill-timed interceptions undermine Kenny Pickett’s Steelers debut in loss to Jets
• Mitch Trubisky ‘disappointed,’ did not expect to be benched as Steelers QB
• Kenny Pickett replaces Mitch Trubisky, but Jets rally past Steelers on late TD

Even if that quarterback’s first start is going to be in Buffalo against the defending AFC East champion Bills. Followed by a visit from Tom Brady and AFC South champion Tampa Buccaneers. Then road games against the 3-1 Miami Dolphins and 4-0 Philadelphia Eagles.

“You have to stay with Pickett now,” Madden said. “I said from moment one that the minute Pickett goes in he has to be the starter until he is hurt or until he proves, decisively, that he can’t do it. And that’s years from now — to prove that for a No. 1 pick, 20th overall.”

Madden said a domino effect is falling out from Sunday’s move.

“Now the great debate is, Trubisky should be the third-string quarterback and (Mason) Rudolph should be the backup. I have no idea why people want that or what the significance of that would be. But that’s what I’m seeing,” Madden said.

The problem for the Steelers is that even if Pickett pans out nicely in his rookie year, there are a ton of other problems facing this team. Particularly on defense.

And there’s no way for Pickett to help those issues.

“Unless (Pickett) can go both ways and play defense too, that’s certainly true. The Steelers had a 10-point lead, on a pretty bad team, in the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium, and they couldn’t hold onto it. Zach Wilson drove the Jets down the field twice with — I don’t want to say minimal effort because he looked pretty good — but how hard was it? The Steelers defense only offered token resistance,” Madden said.

Also, in the podcast, Madden and I dissect all the issues on the defensive side of the ball. We talk about the state of the AFC North. We get into some problems with the Steelers receivers and offensive linemen. Plus, we break down the Penguins’ training camp cuts and Aaron Judge versus Barry Bonds.

Listen: Tim Benz and Mark Madden talk Steelers

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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