“Pickett”ing some QB’s I “Love” for 2023
While the rookie QBs had a difficult week, some younger QBs really stood out to me, in particular Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Green Bay’s Jordan Love.
Pickett, the lone 1st round QB taken in 2022, looked light years ahead of where he was last year. Against Tampa Bay, Pickett went 6/7 for 70 yards and a TD in his line drive of the game. Pickett was put in play-action bootlegs multiple times and used his mobility to find Dionte Johnson for a couple of really accurate first-down throws. Pickett finished his night with a gorgeous throw through traffic to George Pickens for a 33 yards score.
The division is brutal, but the development of Pickens could be huge for the offense. The team went 9-8 last year thanks to a top-10 defense (minus TJ Watt most of the year) and just missed the playoffs. If the offensive line can buy Pickett just a little bit more time, I think the Steelers can push for 10-11 wins and be a sneaky playoff team in 2023.
Another player and team I’m high on is Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers. With Rodgers off to New York (we’ll get to them), everyone seems to be thinking the Packers are a non-factor in 2023, but I disagree. This Green Bay squad still has a ton of pieces from a team that almost made the playoffs last year, and was the #1 seed in the NFC the previous two years. They have a playoff-caliber defense, a strong running game, and a rising young star in Christian Watson. I can’t think of a better situation for a new QB to step into for Jordan Love.
The former #26 overall pick out of Utah State, Love has really only seen time on the field twice, with most recently coming in for the injured Aaron Rodgers late in a road loss at Philadelphia. With his team trailing, and in desperate need of a jolt, Love looked strong in the hostile Philly environment, going 6/9 for 113 yards and a 63-yard touchdown. The Packers lost, but Love helped Green Bay score 10 points in the fourth quarter, showing he has developed.
This development appears to have continued into August, as Love and the Packers looked sharp in their opener at Cincinnati. Given short field position, Love looked impressive, connecting to Watson on a 3rd and 5 to move the chains, and then a beautiful fade to the corner of the end zone to Romeo Doubs for a 9-yard touchdown.
The NFC North is interesting, we’re asking historically disappointing franchises to live up to lofty expectations in Detroit and Chicago, while we’re asking Kirk Cousins to be something he has never been. The Packers strike me as a sneaky dark horse. This is a really good team that can manufacture points in multiple ways, and if they can keep the running game going, expect Love to have a big year with Watson carrying the load.