Koll: 2 assumptions about Kenny Pickett that might not be true


We all knew we’d be talking about the quarterback position all year long with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But I’m not sure if all of us knew we’d be talking about a change so quickly.

Whether the offense’s woes are more Mitch Trubisky’s fault or Matt Canada’s fault is a conversation for a different column. Even the question of whether Kenny Pickett should replace Trubisky if the offense struggles again on Thursday night is a different column.

What I want to focus on are two things I’ve heard recently that are stated as facts, yet I believe are largely fiction.

The first is something Ben Roethlisberger said this week. Ben has a podcast now, did you know that? It’s called Footbahlin’ and it’s recorded in his basement along with his friend Spencer Te’o. It’s actually very entertaining and worth checking out.

In the most recent episode recorded on Sunday night, Ben was talking about how he didn’t like the boo’s that Trubisky was getting from the Steelers faithful. In part of that, he said, “When they drafted Kenny, half or maybe more than half the city wanted him to start right from the get-go before he played a down, just because he was a Pitt kid and Mitch comes with some baggage from Chicago.”

He went on to say that he thought that the boo’s were more for the offense’s struggles in general and his overall point was they expected the “Ken-ny” chants to come out early.

Ben hinted at it but didn’t say directly what Ron Cook, my show colleague on “The Cook and Joe Show” did on Tuesday when he claimed that the crowd was only chanting his name in Week 2 of the season because he’s the Pitt kid.

Love ya Ron, but I disagree with you and Big Ben.

I think it’s easy to connect those dots that the fans only want Pickett because he’s from Pitt. But at the end of the day, it’s got a lot more to do with the circumstances outside of where he went to school.

Firstly, that he’s a first round pick. 20th overall. When you choose a guy then, you’re saying you want him as your future. When there’s nothing but a journeyman QB in front of him, every city and every fanbase in America is going to want to see that guy place sooner rather than later.

If the Steelers chose Malik Willis at 20th overall, there would be “Will-is” chants in the stadium. Why? Well, the backup is always popular unless the starter is a bonafide star and also because THIS OFFENSE STINKS AND PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF WATCHING IT. It’s a re-run of a terrible movie.

I’m not naive enough to think that Kenny’s Pitt success doesn’t play at least some role in the chants being this early. But I believe they have so much more to do with the fact that witnessing 3rd and 8’s end with 2 yard check-downs and seeing only one offensive touchdown scored in two games with a QB that looks unsure of himself while refusing to take even an inkling of a risk down the field at any point is mind-numbingly frustrating.

Pitt guy or not, when you can’t score points and a first round pick is on the bench, fans are going to want him to go in there.

The other thought I’ve heard surrounding Pickett is that Steelers fans are expecting him to ride in on a white horse and are expecting him to be great right away.

I don’t know…I consider myself a “fan” in a lot of ways, I talk to  people who have been fans their entire lives and I have never really gotten the sense that they expect Pickett to walk in and be Patrick Mahomes. I’d say a growing number of fans actually think he could be set up to fail by the offensive coordinator and behind a middling-at-best offensive line.

I don’t see instant stardom as being the expectation here. Maybe I’m totally off on that. My view is that when Steelers fans chant Kenny’s name it’s born out of 1. Total frustration for the current offense (and Pickett might not be the answer for that by the way, firing the OC might be) and 2. The desire to at least start what the future might be. There might growing pains, but at least you go through them with your potential franchise QB.

Mitch Trubisky isn’t the future of the Steelers. But Kenny Pickett could be. So I invite you to let me know, maybe you do expect Pickett to be a star right away. Maybe you are chanting his name because he’s the Pitt kid.

I just think the assumption all Steelers fans want to see the Pitt guy for the sake that he’s a Pitt guy and count on him to be Dan Marino from Day 1 is just that…an assumption