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Steelers position-by-position review: quarterbacks

February 27, 2012 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

This is part 7 in our position-by-position review of the 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers.  If you haven’t read the previous installments, please click below:

If you haven’t read Part 1 (offensive tackles), click here.
If you haven’t read Part 2 (guards), click here.
If you haven’t read Part 3 (centers), click here.
If you haven’t read Part 4 (tight ends), click here.
If you haven’t read Part 5 (wide receivers), click here.
If you haven’t read Part 6 (running backs), click here.

The quarterback position for the Pittsburgh Steelers begins and ends with one name………

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger has been the Steelers’ starting quarterback since 2004.  And outside of suspensions, Big Ben seldom misses or leaves a game.  Even when the Steelers have a big lead late in the 4th quarter, Ben usually stays in the game until the very end.  And this year, Steelers fans found out that Ben doesn’t even miss playing time when common sense says that he should.

Ben’s injury late in the season, and his decision to play through the injury probably cost the Steelers.  So one of the things that I’d love to see new offensive coordinator Todd Haley do is to pull Ben out of the game when he’s hurt, or when it’s obvious that the Steelers are going to win.  Why take unnecessary risks, when the Steelers need a healthy Ben in order to be successful?

Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger

But despite that small complaint, I still think that Ben is capable of leading the Steelers to Lombardi #7.

In 2011, Ben had the second most prolific passing performance of his career.  His 4,077 passing yards was second only to his 4,328 yards in 2009.  However, Ben still has room for improvement.

Specifically, Ben needs to go through his reads faster.   Mental quickness is really what separates good quarterbacks from great ones.  For example, it’s their mental ability, not their physical ability, that separates Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees from the rest of the quarterbacks in the NFL.  And Dan Marino may have been the best ever at this.  Marino could see all of his receivers and get rid of the ball before the defense ever got near him.  Despite having no mobility, Marino almost never got hit.  Contrarily, Big Ben ends up scrambling around and taking 50 sacks per season.

Get rid of the ball faster, Ben.  Get rid of the ball faster.

Byron Leftwich

Byron has had a firm grasp of the #2 quarterback title since he joined the Steelers.  When he’s healthy, he’s a solid backup who is still relatively young, and who has lots of NFL starting experience.

The problem is that Leftwich is almost never healthy.  He’s become the Aaron Smith of the Steelers’ offense.  He has missed the past two seasons with injuries.  I’m starting to think that Leftwich, Aaron Smith, and Dan Sepulveda are having a contest to see who can get miss the most games due to injury.

I respect Leftwich’s ability, but I’m losing patience with him.

Dennis Dixon

Dennis Dixon wants to be a starter.  As long as Big Ben is around, Dixon will never be a starter in Pittsburgh.  So it’s probably best that he part ways with the Steelers.

Personally, I don’t think that Dixon is going to be as successful finding a job as a starter as he seems to think he’ll be.  But he has to find that out for himself.

Dennis won’t be back with the Steelers next year.  I wish him well.

Charlie Batch

Charlie Batch’s time with the Steelers must seem like the movie Groundhog Day.  Every year he comes to training camp as the last option at quarterback.  He is told that he is “too old”.  He barely gets any reps at training camp.  And then when the season rolls around and the Steelers have to depend on one of their backup quarterbacks, it’s inevitably Charlie who steps in and saves the day.

But the reality is that Charlie is 37 years old.  That’s ancient by NFL standards.  Just as the curtain is closing on guys like Casey Hampton, Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, and James Farrior, it’s also closing on Charlie Batch.

It’s time for the Steelers to bring in a young quarterback who can be groomed for 3-4 years behind Big Ben.  He doesn’t have to be a superstar.  He merely has to be able to carry the offense during the few occasions when Big Ben actually comes out of the game.  And as we mentioned earlier, that doesn’t happen very often.

I strongly recommend that the Steelers take a quarterback in the latter rounds of this year’s draft.  If they don’t draft one, then they should sign a free agent.  In 2012, Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch should no longer be on the Steelers’ roster.  Who they get to replace them, and how they acquire him, is up to the team.  But they need to make it happen.

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7 Comments to “Steelers position-by-position review: quarterbacks”

  1. Ditto.

    There really isn’t anything else to say.

  2. RobBass (Base) says:

    Bold but true..

  3. Dan Reisner says:

    The nice thing about Batch is that, if he’s willing to stay in shape, we don’t need to sign him at any particular time. If we find a QB at the end of the draft and he makes the team fine. If not, I’ll bet we can still sign Charlie. We’ve needed all four QBs for a few years in a row now.

  4. Dixon will be gone, and Leftwich will get hurt. Charlie will never go away! When he retires, he’ll probably get on the coaching staff somehow. :D

    Anyways, if we take a developmental QB, let’s get an actual QB, not some spread option/air raid fodder. Omar Jacobs? LOL. And I’ve always thought that Dixon is way overrated. He had one good half against the Ravens like 4 years ago before they switched tactics and confused him. Yay.

  5. The funny thing is, one of those 3 backups has been hurt every year, so we’ve had all 3 on the roster for 3 of the last 4 years (2009 Sleepy was in Tampa). Although often Sleepy, both of the others have been on the IR too. It’s been a funny/odd sort of rotation. Like that song by Meatloaf “Two of Three Ain’t Bad”.

    As a Buckeye Alum, I’d love to see Troy Smith make the roster. Not sure how well he fits, but I’m thinking he’s the next choice if Batch can’t go, or Sleepy gets hurt.

    No great loss when Dixon leaves. It’ll be interesting to see if gets much of a chance.

    I don’t see them taking a QB in the draft, but you never know. If they find the right guy, they will.

  6. @Dan,
    I would love to see Batch end up on the coaching staff. I know that both positions are already filled, but nevertheless, I think it would be pretty cool if Batch became QB coach, and Hines Ward became wide receivers coach. And now that I think about it, James Farrior would probably make a pretty good coach too.

  7. J.R. Glymph says:

    I’m glad Troy Smith was added to the roster. He’s a definite upgrade over Dixon. Dixon hadn’t progressed since his rookie year.


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