Hall of Fame former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher believes the team should "stick with" rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett moving forward.
Cowher told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac that he believes his coaching successor, Mike Tomlin, should commit to the former University of Pittsburgh standout after Pickett took over for veteran Mitchell Trubisky during the third quarter of Sunday's 24-20 loss to the New York Jets.
“He came in and you felt the energy. You felt there was something there,” Cowher said of Pickett's performance. “There’s probably a couple throws he’d like to have back, but at the same time, I would not go back.”
Pickett finished Sunday's game with 120 yards and three interceptions on 10 of 13 passing but provided two rushing touchdowns to put the Steelers ahead, 20-10 before the Jets scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Cowher faced a similar situation in 2004 when a then-rookie Ben Roethlisberger took over at quarterback for an injured Tommy Maddox in Week 2 and held the starting job for the next 18 years, which included winning two Super Bowls, the first of which came under Cowher during the Roethlisberger's second NFL season.
“Every time you pull a quarterback out, you show a little bit of a lack of confidence in the guy,” Cowher said via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I know you say you need a spark, but you’re getting benched for a reason. I agree with everything that’s happened to this point. I don’t think it’s all the fault of Mitch Trubisky. But you need to do something to give you a spark
“It stagnates your offense to keep going back and forth. You’re going to have to live with some of the growing pains (with Pickett). But, barring injury, I’d never pull him off for a performance.”
Cowher is the second of three Steelers head coaches since 1969, succeeding fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Noll (1969-91) and proceeding Tomlin (2007-present), the NFL's second-longest tenured head coach behind only Bill Belichick (New England Patriots, 2000).
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