The Pittsburgh Steelers have been given the difficult task of playing two games over the span of five days. This can be a daunting task for any team, especially one riddled with injuries.
But there has been hope over the past week, with both Willie Parker and Big Ben Roethlisberger expected to play Sunday against the Chargers. But is this really a good thing, or just a bad thing in disguise?
Ben Roethlisberger is by far a great player, but has not been playing up to his standards, or the fans' standards. He has already throw as many interceptions has he had all of last season, and has more interceptions than touchdowns.
And his play has not been improving at all; in fact it has gone in the completely opposite direction. Over the past three games, Big Ben has thrown eight interceptions and just one touchdown. That is not the 32 TD-11 INT Ben Roethlisberger that Steelers fans saw last year.
Now, you have to give him credit because he has been playing with and injured throwing shoulder, injured right hand, and injured left thumb. Has this contributed to his unexpected play, I don't know, but it most likely has had some effect.
And I would not be writing this article if it were not for the recent play of backup QB, Byron Leftwich. He played the second half of the Steelers 23-6 win over Washington in week nine and helped tremendously.
In that second half, Leftwich threw for 129 yards on seven completions and a touchdown. Overall this season, he has thrown for 223 yards on just 14 completions and two scores. These are excellent numbers for a backup that has only played in 13 games over the past three seasons, only starting eight of those thirteen games.
The Steelers running game has also struggled more than Pittsburgh fans are used to. Willie Parker has not played in five of the Steelers nine games and his backup Mewelde Moore has played surprisingly well. But the Steelers rush offense has not been the same without Parker.
But in preparation for the short time between games, I have a very simple solution for the Steelers to possibly get two wins and boost the teams' confidence for their Week 13 matchup against the Patriots in Foxborough.
Start Byron Leftwich AND Mewelde Moore Sunday Against the Chargers
This would be in my mind a very intelligent thing to do because it would give both Willie Parker and Ben Roethlisberger more time to heal from their wounds. Byron Leftwich has shown he can play, so why not give him a chance to showcase his abilities a little more.
Mewelde Moore has been a spectacular runner for the Steelers and has proven to be a tremendous pickup for the team.
Another reason this would be a great gameplan is the element of surprise. The Chargers are expecting to see Ben Roethlisberger and Willie Parker start, so why not make it look that way and then catch them off guard and have Leftwich and Moore run out there with the offense. This would create tons of confusion and the Chargers D would have to adjust quickly.
And with such great play from the Steelers defense, they can stop LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers offense, at least enough to allow Leftwich and Moore to get the offense going early and put some points up on the scoreboard quickly.
And Big Ben might be able to learn a few things from his own backup about how to get rid of the ball quicker, which has been Ben's downfall this season.
Then Start Roethlisberger and Parker Thursday against the Bengals
Not only would the benching of Ben and Willie for Sunday's game help them heal from wounds, it would also help them focus on the Bengals.
And it's the Bengals. No offense Bengal fans, but playing Cincinnati is a huge confidence booster, except for the Jaguars I guess. The Steelers rolled right over them a couple weeks ago, and that was in Cincinnati. This game is in Pittsburgh.
Ben and Willie could both have big games against the 1-8 Bengals which would really boost the entire teams' confidence and help in the teams preparation for the Pats.
Of course the Steelers could do things the other way around and play Ben and Willie against the Chargers and then let Leftwich and Moore handle the Bengals. And the defense could carry the team if needed in either game.
Things probably won't go this way; in fact I can almost guarantee they won't, but it would be an intelligent decision because asking Ben and Willie to play two games in five days and get hit as many times as they will, then win both, and then prepare to play the Pats in New England is asking too much in my opinion.
I am really excited to see how the Steelers handle the short week between games and how their decisions turn out. Hopefully Pittsburgh can go up to Foxborough with an 8-3 record.