Pittsburgh Steelers: Analysis Heading into 2012, QB
Every year, every team must analyze each position and plan ahead for what they are going to do in the league year.
Some teams need a starter, and have to do what ever they can to get the person that cannot only be the face of the franchise, but find the player that can be the leader the team needs, and most importantly, find the player that is going to put points on the board, wins in the record book, and fans in the seats.
In many cities, the backup QB is the most loved guy, because they either don't have faith in the starter, or he is a player that could win games when the starter starts to fail.
Here is my breakdown of the Pittsburgh Steelers QB depth chart.
Starter: Ben Roethlisberger
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The Pittsburgh Steelers are set at the quarterback position with Big Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger currently holds the record for most passing yards in a season, as he is in first and second place in that department in Steelers history.
There is no question that who ever else is on the Steelers roster, he is going to be the backup, unless Ben gets injured.
Having signed the largest contract in the history of the Steelers, Ben has already restructured his contract twice for the Steelers.
Being signed through the 2015 season, the Steelers are set at this position for the better part of the next three years, at least.
Backup Free Agents
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The Steelers had three backups in 2011, and all three of them are set to become free agents once the league year starts.
Byron Leftwich was the back up for the Steelers when they won their last Super Bowl, and is the most likely candidate to return in 2012.
Leftwich has a much slower release the Ben, and is nowhere near as mobile. He does have the ability to throw a rocket once the ball actually leaves his hands.
After leaving the Steelers after getting his Super Bowl ring, Leftwich joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the hopes of resurrecting his career. He was the starter for four games before being benched for Josh Freeman.
Leftwich has seen that the grass is not greener, and knows that his days as a starter are probably numbered. If he is going to be a backup, why not be one on a team you already know, and has the chance of winning another Super Bowl?
Charlie Batch has been a great Steeler, and will continue to be as long as the Steelers will have him. Growing up a fan of the Steelers, Batch has done what most Steelers fans have only dreamed of, winning the Super Bowl.
Dennis Dixon was a fifth round selection of the Steelers, but could never pick up the system to become a back up for the Steelers, instead he spent most of his time running the scout team.
Dixon wants a chance to start somewhere, but will be lucky to find a job that will even make him the No. 2.
Though he may return to the Steelers if no other team is interested, odds of Dixon being with the Steelers in 2012 are slim.
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Being fairly certain that the Steelers are going to keep either Leftwich or Batch, or both, I would be shocked if they were to even look at any of the available free agents on the market.
For starters, anyone that has a chance to be a starter somewhere else, is not even going to consider sitting behind Big Ben.
Others that are not starting caliber, would have to prove that they could be a better replacement than Leftwich or Batch.
Add to that, the chemistry that the Steelers locker room already has, there is almost no chance that there will be even a backup brought in.
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As certain as I am that the Steelers are not going to sign a free-agent QB to the roster, I am equally sure that at some point, late in the draft, Pittsburgh will select someone that they can groom to be the eventual replacement for Big Ben.
The Steelers did this same thing with Dennis Dixon, but that didn't work out as well as the Steelers had hoped. Now that the Dixon experiment is over, the Steelers will need to pick a new player to fill that roll.
My best guess is that the Steelers will go for either:
5th Round - Nick Foles, Arizona
6th Round - Ryan Lindley, San Diego State
7th Round - Jordan Jefferson, LSU
Though NONE of these guys have the skills of a Ben Roethlisberger, they could all develop into solid back ups, IF given the time.
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Ben Roethlisberger has proven time and time again that he is one of the best at what he does in the NFL. The Steelers will go as far as Ben Roethlisberger takes them.
Yes, when Ben was suspended last year, the Steelers still managed a 3-1 record, but that was because of the defense. Ben needs to play great, and stay uninjured if the Steelers want a realistic shot at winning Lombardi No. 7 this year.
Yes, they can do it, but unless they want to sign Peyton Manning as the backup, then none of the guys they will be able to get will even be close to what Ben is. Forget it, Manning would never survive behind the Steelers line.