Steelers' Quarterback Dilemma: 1974 All Over Again

Charlie Cox@@charles_a_coxCorrespondent IJune 3, 2010

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 19:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 and Dennis Dixon #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers practice on April 19, 2010 at the Pittsburgh Steelers South Side training facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Steelers' quarterback dilemma has been a redundant story for the past two months - neither Tomlin, nor any other personnel will come out and say who the opening day starter will be. 

However, it has been made evident that Dennis Dixon and Ben Roethlisberger have been working with the first team in OTAs. 

To Steeler fans, this does nothing but bring back memories of the 1974 season. Terry Bradshaw's inconsistent play in previous years was the bridge to set up the long-awaited quarterback battle.

The Steelers had a young quarterback in Joe Gilliam, whom they drafted in 1972. Gilliam had not had a chance to compete for the starting role until the '74 season. With Terry Bradshaw's less-than-average performance in the preseason, Gilliam was handed the starting role on opening day, blasting the Baltimore Colts 30-0. He went on to maintain the starting role until his play faltered and Bradshaw was given his spot back.

The 1974 situation was one that resembles the 2010 season to almost an exact certainty; granted that it is evident that Ben Roethlisberger will not be the opening day quarterback due to suspension, for that is not the question at hand.

What resembles the '74 season so much is one of the biggest questions of this season, regardless of who starts. What if the starting quarterback plays well through the first four to six weeks, respectively?

If Dennis Dixon hypothetically starts at the beginning of the season and manages an undefeated record until Roethlisberger's return, what will the Steelers do in respect to the quarterback situation then?

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Sure, Roethlisberger has been the starter and the face of the franchise for this team since 2005, but should his starting role just be handed back over to him?

And, of course, it is evident that Roethlisberger is the quarterback of now and the future. He is the one of a kind, unique athlete that come around every 30 or so years. There isn't another quarterback on the Steelers depth chart that comes close to resembling the talent and maintaining the aura that Roethlisberger has.

Then you have the old saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well if you think that the ancient, career back-up Charlie Batch is the future of the franchise, you are greatly mistaken, despite how well he could play. 

Byron Leftwich, who had Steelers' fans groveling at his performance in Roethlisberger's stead, isn't the future of the franchise either, despite the unanimous support he has from the Steeler Nation. He is an aging quarterback who had his chance with several teams at keeping a starting role, and has failed to do so several times.

Dixon would be the best choice out of all the quarterbacks; a young talented athlete who resembles a stronger armed Michael Vick. But he's nothing more than a run-and-gun quarterback. History has shown that those type of quarterbacks don't survive in the NFL and do not win championships.

All in all, the situation will turn into a dilemma, no matter what happens this season. Should the incumbent Roethlisberger get his spot back despite the stellar play of a replacement? Only time will tell.