It is no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to run the football this season, and one former Steeler, Jerome Bettis is a fan of it. Today on the Dan Patrick Show, Bettis voiced his support of quarterback Kenny Pickett while also saying he believes that the best way to help him develop is by leaning on the run game.
“I think that’s the recipe for what you’re gonna see in Pittsburgh,” Bettis said when asked if any team is going to buck the passing trend in the NFL. “I think Kenny Pickett is going to be a special quarterback. He’s still developing and while he’s developing, I think you got to run the football.”
Bettis has experience with this exact situation, being a running back with a young quarterback at the helm. Although he was older and eventually lost his spot as the lead running back, Bettis and the running game helped quarterback Ben Roethlisberger grow in his first two seasons.
Although Pickett didn’t rattle off 15 straight wins in his rookie season, he did show promise as he showcased the “it” factor in leading four game-winning drives. Pickett’s play improved as the season progressed, and now he is poised to take a second-year leap. While finding out how big the leap will be is very interesting, the best way to help Pickett develop is by not putting too much on his plate. He is still a second-year quarterback who is learning the game.
In Pickett’s first few starts he was asked to throw 30-plus times, and it did not work out well. When his attempt were a bit lower and the Steelers leaned on their rushing attack, Pickett played much better. This is the formula for success not only for the Steelers, but also for Pickett in Year Two. Roethlisberger was a special talent when he was young, but even he was not asked to carry the Steelers game in and game out, instead he relied on Bettis, Willie Parker, and Duce Staley to do the heavy lifting while he provided support.
Bettis knows firsthand the right way to develop a young and talented quarterback. With the way the Steelers have conducted their offseason, it seems that they are planning on giving Pickett the Roethlisberger treatment. Hopefully, Pickett can follow in Roethlisberger’s footsteps and win a Super Bowl in Year Two.