Inevitably, Mike Tomlin gets asked after every game — whether a loss or a win like Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium — about how his rookie quarterback, Kenny Pickett, looked.
And Tomlin pretty much answers it the same way … except following the first fourth-quarter comeback of Pickett’s career in a 24-17 win over the Colts. This time, a somewhat aggravated Tomlin was ready for the question and had more than his usual stock answer.
“You guys ask me that every week. He’s getting better every week, and it’s in a very natural way because of experience,” Tomlin said.
He then expanded: “It’s just a process. But like I always say, he is good enough, and we are good enough, to win while that happens. So we’re not grading him or us on a curve. We acknowledge he is very much in development. You ask me next week, and I will tell you he got better in all areas next week. Because with each snap comes exposure, and sharp guys, guys who are competitors, they grow from those things.”
Everything Tomlin said made sense.
Pickett picked up the first road win of his career and his second game-winning drive as he led an 11-play, 75-yard march, including three big-time throws to George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth to convert third downs and Pickens again for a two-point conversion. The latter came moments after Benny Snell Jr. scored from 2 yards out on a play that Pickett insisted to both Tomlin and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan that the team should run.
Pickett’s numbers — especially after halftime — were pedestrian. He went 20 of 28 for 174 yards and a passer rating of 87.5. But he avoided turnovers yet again — he now has three straight games without a turnover after committing nine in his first five games. Pickett wasn’t great all night, but he was when he needed to be.
And Tomlin admitting that the team can win while Pickett is still developing brings two thoughts to mind: Why was Pickett saddled with third-team snaps throughout the spring and summer, and why did many around the organization believe that Tomlin would prefer for Pickett not to take a snap all season?
How far along would Pickett be right now if he got those valuable reps in OTAs and training camp?