The Chaz Stands Alone

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 19: Dave Ball of the Tennessee Titans sacks quarterback Charlie Batch at LP Field on September 19, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Steelers won 19-11. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Is a quarterback controversy still a controversy when you only have one healthy quarterback?

This Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the surprisingly undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Somebody will be behind center to handle the snaps from Maurkice Pouncey.  Although who that lucky individual might be is anyone’s guess.  Forget about the Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat, the Black and Gold able-bodied quarterback is a real endangered species.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Dennis Dixon‘s minor knee injury isn’t so minor after all. It’s apparently a torn lateral meniscus which usually requires arthroscopic surgery to patch up.  Even if Dix avoids the knife, that injury would likely shelf him for the next two weeks.  Bottom line, don’t expect to see him under center any time soon.

As expected, the Steeler re-signed Byron Leftwich early yesterday afternoon.   Might he be the starter against his former team this weekend?   Byron says he plans to “go hard” at practice today to see if his sprained MCL responds.  This presents two problems.   One, if he finds out the knee is no good, then the Steelers have wasted a whole day of practice on nothing when those valuable snaps could have been given to the person who needs them.  And two, he’s already the most immobile quarterback in the NFL.  Is a gimpy Leftwich really a viable option?

Which leaves us with Charlie Batch.  Pressed into service against the Titans, Chaz looked various shades of awful.  Of course, he was given hardly any snaps during the preseason and was on the verge of being released when Leftwich went down.   Then you had the issue with the backup left tackles doing their best impressions of a human turnstile.  Max Starks should play on Sunday so that will probably help.   But the other big concern with Batch is can you count on him to survive four full quarters?   The last two times he saw significant playing time, he was knocked out for the season.   In the 2008 preseason, he broke his clavicle ending his year.   Last year, he broke his wrist playing basketball picking himself up off the turf.   Even if he survives the Bucs, how’s Mr. Glass going to do against the Ravens’ array of cheap shots and dirty tactics?

A few years ago, I would’ve said “No problem.”   Charlie Batch was easily the best backup quarterback in the NFL.  He did a great job against the Dolphins in the 2006 home opener but that was four years ago.  I have no idea what he’s capable of at this point.   All we know is he’s the only healthy quarterback on the roster.  The question therefore becomes is 100% Batch a better or worse option than 75% Leftwich?

I hope Antwaan Randle El has been studying his playbook.   We may need him on Sunday.

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