Plaxico Burress is no stranger to Pittsburgh. Drafted eighth overall in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Plaxico would go on to play five seasons with the Steelers before leaving for the New York Giants in 2005. Plaxico accounted for 4,164 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns on 261 receptions.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer, however, is a stranger to the Steelers. Hoyer was an undrafted free agent who was signed by the New England Patriots in 2009. He remained in New England until he was released during the final cuts prior to this season.
During his time in New England, Hoyer played in 13 games and threw a combined 43 passes with 27 completions. That's all the experience Hoyer has in his four-year NFL career, but I'm largely optimistic about Hoyer and the success he can have in Pittsburgh.
Hoyer was a successful quarterback in college at Michigan State. So much so, that he currently ranks in the top 10 of several career categories at Michigan State including pass attempts (No. 2 at 896), passing yards (No. 3 with 6,159), pass completions (No. 3 with 500), touchdown passes (No. 6 with 35) and completion percentage (No. 10 with .559). But Hoyer's success in college is not what makes me think he can be successful with the Steelers.
Hoyer was coached by New England mastermind Bill Belichick and assistant Bill O'Brien for his entire career. These two coaches are the reason behind Tom Brady's success. Hoyer has had time to learn from the best in the business and offers something the Steelers do not have at the quarterback position: youth.
Hoyer is only 27 years old. As of now, longtime backup quarterback Charlie Batch will start for the Steelers on Sunday when they take on the Cleveland Browns. Batch is 10 years older than Hoyer, but I respect anyone that has been able to stay in the NFL for 15 seasons. Still, while the veteran QB has thrown for 10,610 passing yards over his career, he is not the answer the Steelers need.
Pittsburgh needs a durable quarterback who can manage the game. I have questions about how durable Batch can be. He's 37 years old, and may not be able to tolerate the abuse that comes on a weekly basis while playing in the NFL. Brian Hoyer is younger and stronger, which will enable him to withstand the throttling put on by aggressive defenses.
Nothing helps a young quarterback like a veteran tight end. The Steelers have that in Heath Miller, who in my opinion, is one of the most underrated tight ends in the league.
Pittsburgh also has a deep-threat receiver in Mike Wallace and a solid running back tandem in Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer.
Let me make it clear that Charlie Batch is starting for the Steelers Sunday. But I think the Steelers will make the move to Hoyer for the next game and the future until Ben Roethlisberger is able to return. The Steelers need a fresh, new quarterback. Brian Hoyer provides just that.
The final missing piece of the Steelers offense is Plaxico Burress. Now that he is back, the Steelers have a reliable short-yardage option at receiver. Someone who can be effective inside the red zone and help out young quarterback Brian Hoyer.
The acquisitions of Plaxico Burress and Brian Hoyer might not seem like a big deal. But, I think if used effectively, these two players can provide some stability for the Steelers in the short and long term. Let Roethlisberger rest and recover until the playoffs. Hoyer can fill in until then.
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