Dennis Dixon: A Different Quarterback with a Different Skill Set

Vicki FarriesCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2009

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 29:  Dennis Dixon #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers passes against the  Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

The Steelers had a decent chance with time left in the first half to get into field goal range to close in on that seven–point deficit.

Nineteen seconds left in the first half and down 14-7, the Steelers on their 40, hand off to RB Carey Davis for a one yard gain.

They needed twenty yards for a field goal to end the half.

Instead they play conservative and run out the clock.

In the third quarter No. 3 QB Dennis Dixon puts the Steelers in position to earn a field goal to make the score 14-10.

Gaining confidence as the game went on Dixon gave the Steelers the lead in the fourth quarter.

6:32 left in the fourth quarter, 3rd-and-5 on the Baltimore 24, Dixon thinking on his feet, rushes for 24 yards to score his first NFL touchdown.

It was a perfect call against that Raven blitz.

TE Heath Miller was used more for blocking to prevent an all-out blitz but Dixon did much better against the blitz than when the Ravens were in the zone four-man rush.

Dixon did well in a tough spot, a hostile environment.

He showed poise and control of the offense. He played faked extremely well.

For a No.3 quarterback, Dixon’s performance was solid.

Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians called a horrible game.

He did not do what makes Dixon special which was getting him out on the field and allowing him to take advantage of his athletic ability.

Dixon has a different skill set from QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Arians kept Dixon in the confines of the traditional offense designed for Roethlisberger.

Why could there not have been designed runs, quarterback draws and option plays?

As we saw, Dixon was more effective in getting outside the pocket.

In his first start, Dixon worked everything inside the pocket on a normal down and distance.

As Dixon got more comfortable, we saw him move around the pocket, around the edge, surveying the field, making plays.

Arians could have called some of those designed runs, quarterback draws and option plays that could have open up the offense. But he didn’t.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported on game day, some Raven officials were worried about the Steelers putting in something that would allow Dixon to run around.

They weren’t sure how to handle that but the Steelers never tested them.

Arians should have put Dixon in position to be able to do something to change up the offense, giving the Ravens a different look.

Instead, as reported Arians ask Dixon what 15 plays did he feel the most comfortable and designed the playbook around those plays.

It only stifled the talent instead of unleashing it.

It was not all Arians play calling that lost the game; it was in fact the defense giving up the lead in the fourth quarter.

It could have been Dixon’s first NFL game win.

The (6-5) Steelers are preparing to host the (3-8) Oakland Raiders this Sunday.

Coach Tomlin reports that Roethlisberger has not suffered any more headaches from his last concussion since last Friday and intends to suit up for Sunday’s game.

After what I have seen of Dixon against a really good defense in a hostile arena, he should be the one to start on Sunday at home, in friendly territory.

The most recent report is that Dixon may see more action after his performance on Sunday, even if Roethlisberger is able to go.

Roethlisberger should sit out at least one more week to improve his condition.

We all know what it is like when he rushes back on the field less than one-hundred percent—the outcome is not good.

The Steelers can ill-afford to lose a fourth game in a row and against another sub par team.  



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