The Pittsburgh Steelers reached the NFL Playoffs, but they did so despite having a couple of serious issues on the offensive side of the ball. Pittsburgh already took care of arguably their biggest weakness, which was the ineptitude of offensive coordinator Matt Canada, hiring Arthur Smith as his replacement this offseason. However, the most important need is always at quarterback, and the Steelers still don't have a quarterback they can be convinced is "the guy".
Kenny Pickett is young, but the Steelers current No. 1 signal-caller has a very tenuous hold on the starting job -- one he actually let slip to Mason Rudolph last season. Rudolph clearly isn't good enough to be a franchise quarterback but is a decent career backup. That is his level. So the fact that Rudolph beat Pickett out for the job at one point last season isn't a positive sign for the No. 20 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Now that he is the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, Smith has the task of helping the Steelers find or develop their next quarterback. However, the Steelers may decide to stick with what they have, in which case Smith's task is to help Pickett find a higher level in what will most definitely be a make-or-break year for the 25-year-old.
Arthur Smith may give Kenny Pickett the benefit of the doubt
Smith told Steelers.com's Missi Matthews, “There’s a relationship that's got to be built between me and Kenny. That’s so paramount between the play caller and the quarterback.”
Steelers fans will bristle at the notion that Smith is already essentially committing to Pickett as his No. 1 quarterback in the 2024 season. Many in Pittsburgh have seen enough of Pickett, who fails to move the offense and doesn't seem to have the arm talent the team needs at quarterback. The Steelers have some stud offensive pieces around him, including in the running game, yet they were still a bottom-five offense in points scored.
Smith can't throw Pickett or any of his players under the bus, but a more vague response may have appeased Steelers fans, leaving the door open for the new offensive coordinator to use his sway to tell that organization that they need someone better.