Both Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch are looking to start until Ben Roethlisberger returns from suspension
That is what Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin must be thinking with the news that Byron Leftwich has a torn MCL with Week 1 about a week away. It was extremely likely that the veteran Leftwich would be starting while Ben Roethlisberger served out his league suspension. In fact he seemed to be the favorite once the Steelers traded for Leftwich in April.
But since Leftwich is out, the race for the starting quarterback job is now between Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. Who should Coach Tomlin choose?
The Case for Dixon
Dixon has youth on his side. He is only 25 while Batch is 10 years older. Dixon also has great mobility and can make plays with his feet as well as his arm, a very critical trait considering the Steelers' offensive line has been in flux over the last couple of years. Batch does not have nearly the same mobility that Dixon does. And his arm is strong enough to keep defenses off-balance and not focus on just his scrambling.
Batch's arm is also not as strong as Dixon's. Dixon, due to his talent and his youth, has much more upside than Batch. Dixon has also started more recently than Batch, starting last season on November 29 in an overtime loss to the Ravens.
The Case for Batch
While Batch, at this stage of his career, does not have nearly the upside that Dixon has, he offers much more stability than Dixon. Batch has been around since 1998 and has started a bunch of games over the years. This will also be his ninth year with the Steelers, which is much longer than Dixon, and has a high level of familiarity with the Steelers organization and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' offense.
Therefore, he allows the Steelers to believe he will not lose his composure starting over a period of time while starting—we can't say the same thing for Dixon. Plus, with three of the first four games coming up against teams that look like they will compete for the playoffs (Falcons, Titans, and the archrival Ravens), having a veteran quarterback who won't get frazzled in the heat of the moment could be critical.
Plus, Arians has been critical of Dixon always looking to run rather than looking through his progressions, mistakes only a green quarterback like Dixon would make.
Who Should Start
With the Steelers looking to get back to running the ball more frequently this season, the Steelers will only need a game manager the four weeks until Big Ben returns. They need somebody who will not turn the ball over and make mistakes. I firmly believe that Batch is more qualified to do that than Dixon.
The edge goes to Batch.