Charlie Batch will start against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
One fan yelled “Put in Charlie!” two weeks ago against the Kansas City Chiefs after Roethlisberger threw an incomplete pass.
This particular fan learned a lesson that night—you never appreciate what you have until it is gone.
Roethlisberger left the game with an injury and Byron Leftwich—not Batch—entered the game leaving the fan yelling “Put in Charlie!” after nearly every pass attempt.
The start for Batch may be one week too late as the Steelers dropped a tough game against the division leading Baltimore Ravens.
Should Batch have been the backup quarterback ahead of Leftwich?
The 37-year-old Homestead native has always had a special place in Pittsburgh as the hometown quarterback, even though his skills have slowly eroded over the years.
Batch easily has the weakest arm on the team and can no longer move around the pocket like he used to, but he is still the second-best quarterback on the team.
Todd Haley should have no problem integrating Batch into the offensive scheme that he has been running for most of the season—the quick-rhythm short passing attack—but the offense will be geared to Batch’s strengths, according to head coach Mike Tomlin (via CBSSports.com).
The changes (to the Steelers offense) will be subtle, and they will be made with an emphasis to gear toward maximizing his strengths and minimizing his weaknesses. But we have a great deal of confidence in Charlie.
Batch doesn’t have the zip on the ball that Roethlisberger does, nor the accuracy, but he is more than capable of getting the ball out quickly and operating this type of rhythm-based attack.
He also has the ability to get the ball down field if needed, though that may not be an option in what figures to be the coldest game of the year on Sunday.
But setting aside what Batch can do with the offense, the bottom line is that he wins more football games than he loses when called upon.
Since signing with the Steelers in 2003, Batch has only started seven games, but has gone 5-2 in those games.
Batch has played in seven games since 2010 and has performed admirably, completing 60.2 percent of his passes for 560 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
His last start came on December 24, 2011, in a 27-0 against the St. Louis Rams in which he completed 15-of-22 passes for 208 yards and an interception.
Now Batch has an improved offensive line in front of him and a ground game behind Jonathan Dwyer that is capable of picking up chunks of yardage at a time.
The combination of Burress’ size, Mike Wallace’s speed and Emmanuel Sanders’ quickness will provide Batch will a more balanced trio of receivers to work with than what Byron Leftwich had last week against the Ravens.
Even with the weapons, Haley will not ask Batch to do too much, and that will be a key to victory over the Browns.
Against Baltimore, Haley had Leftwich throw the ball 39 times to only 27 rush attempts. That is not the type of balance that should happen with a backup quarterback under center and a strong running game.
Instead, Haley should go back to the basics with a power running attack and have Batch be a game manager.
It will be close, but Batch is capable of making a few plays a game, and that should be enough to carry the Steelers past the Browns and keep them in contention in the AFC North.