Ben Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl during his second season as the Steelers' starting quarterback. If Pittsburgh is going to have similar aspirations this season, Roethlisberger feels it will largely come down to the play of his successor, Kenny Pickett, who is entering his second season as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback. 

Roethlisberger recently broke down the 2023 Steelers ahead of their preseason opener against the Buccaneers. The future Hall of Fame quarterback spoke knowledgeably about the team while pinpointing what he feels will be the biggest key to the Steelers having success this season. 

"I get asked all the time, what do I think about the Steelers this year," Roethlisberger recently said on his podcast. "And I always answer with the defense is going to be awesome. I just, I feel that. They've got a lot of great players. ... The key is going to be Kenny Pickett." 

Kenny Pickett
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Roethlisberger pointed out that Pickett will have to deal with the challenge of opposing defenses having film of his rookie season to use in an attempt to limit his success against them. He said fellow second-year players George Pickens and Jaylen Warren will have the same challenge. 

"Can he still continue to lead the team and grow, which I've heard nothing but great things about what he's done this year so far," Roethlisberger said of Pickett. "Audibles, changing plays, making things happen. So how will he go? What will happen when he faces a defensive coordinator that says, 'OK, I'm not going to let you beat me this time.' 

"He's going to kind of be the catalyst to, I think, how the team goes. He's going to have to have a big second year, and so will George."

Roethlisberger is right from the standpoint that some of Pickett's attributes that were surprises last season -- like his mobility -- won't be surprises this season. That being said, Pickett is not the same player who walked off the field following the team's Week 18 win over Cleveland this past January. The improvements Pickett has made this offseason and during the early stages of camp will surely benefit him this season. It will also likely give him the edge in early season games while opposing defenses try to get acclimated to the things he and the Steelers' offense do well. 

As Roethlisberger alluded to, Pickett has improved on his pre-snap recognition during camp. Because of that, he has called more audibles while taking more control of the Steelers' offense. He's also made quicker decisions and, due to his offseason training, appears to have strengthened his throwing velocity. 

Pickett, as he recently explained during an interview with NBC Sports, is also getting first-team reps this offseason, something he didn't receive until he replaced Mitch Trubisky as the team's starting quarterback four games into his rookie season. That alone should make a significant difference as Pickett continues to grow within Matt Canada's offense. 

The Steelers have also strengthened their skill positions with the additions of former Pro Bowl Allen Robinson and rookie tight end Darnell Washington. Pittsburgh also beefed up its offensive line with the additions of free agents Isaac Seumalo, Nate Herbig and rookie first-round pick Broderick Jones. Pickett has done the work, but the Steelers have also put him in position to have more success entering Year 2.

While no one knows how the Steelers' season will play out, one thing we do know is that the Steelers' former quarterback is pulling for the team's current one to succeed. Roethlisberger said that himself when Pickett was a guest on his show earlier this year. "

"I think you're the future of this team," Roethlisberger told Pickett. "The fans are lucky they got you. ... I'm glad that I transitioned to loving and rooting for you. It's been fun watching you. I enjoy texting you after games. I'm a fan."