The Steelers are down to their 3rd string quarterback to play this Sunday against the Browns. Is it 2010? That season the Steelers faced the first four games without Roethlisberger due to suspension and thanks to a fairly quick season-ending injury on Byron Leftwich, the ball was handed to Charlie Batch to lead the way. This season isn’t the exact same scenario, but circumstances being what they are the ball is yet again handed to Charlie Batch to lead the Steelers offense to victory. The Steelers are no strangers to dealing with injuries, but the quarterback position is a whole different animal. Tomlin will say that he doesn’t have back ups, he has “starters in waiting”. That might be true for the other positions but when you have a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger leading your offense his backups aren’t exactly “starters in waiting”. As much as we all love Charlie, he’s not a starter in waiting but he has proven to be more than capable of leading this team to victory.
We can argue up, down, left and right about how long Lefty played last Sunday night’s game injured against the Ravens and how Coach Tomlin should have yanked him for Batch but that’s all a moot point right now. I think it’s safe to officially label Byron Leftwich as “injury-prone”, although his broken ribs do not appear to be season-ending at the moment. I heard all kinds of opinions, theories and suggestions about the Steelers back up quarterback situation this week and I kept thinking to myself, “Was I the only one that had complete confidence in the backup situation before all this happened?” Of course any team can feel confident about their back up quarterback situation (NY Jets excluded) until faced with the reality of turning to the backups. Although we have never seen a whole lot of action out of Lefty on account of he tends to get injured quite easily after entering a game, I realized that there must be something that Tomlin and the rest of the coaching staff liked about him to keep bringing him back on the roster season after season. I was ok with that. Knowing he has the longest ball delivery known to man and he never put together a lengthy display of performances as a Steeler, I was still ok with him as the backup. Mostly because our starting quarterback will always stay in the game unless apparently his ribs are about to puncture his aorta.
Know what fans don’t normally say? “Wouldn’t it be awesome if our starting qb goes out and the back up can come in?” Regardless of who is waiting in the wings to back up a starting quarterback the story is same for every team, the back up gets no reps in practice with the first team and he’s not starting quarterback caliber of talent anyway. I heard tons of “we need to sign a big name qb as a back up” and “we need to draft a qb to groom him to be Ben’s replacement” which sounded silly to me seeing as how Ben is in his prime and while you want to make sure you have a capable backup, you still need to build the team around him to win and not start beefing up the backup quarterback roster.
The Steelers signed former Patriots back up QB Brian Hoyer this week for some insurance. One thing we can say for certain about him is that since he was a back up for Brady, he never saw a minute of regular season playing time. Belichick isn’t exactly known for taking his foot off of the brakes and yanking his starters from a game regardless of the score. Hoyer was added just as a body for the roster anyway. Although you can never be too careful and I would hope Charlie gets one of those Michael Vick kevlar vests to play with since apparently this is the season for rib injuries, I would doubt we see Hoyer enter a game at all. No telling if he stays on the roster once the Steelers are back at full strength.
Charlie’s last start was last season at home against the Rams with a 27-0 victory. His teammates have complete confidence in him as do most of the fans. Although his starts have been sporadic, he is 5-2 as a starter for the Steelers and has played well in each and everyone of those games. While the situation is not ideal to be without the services of Ben for the unforeseeable future I still have confidence in Batch. I was part of a crowd of Steeler fans cheering “Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!” in Tampa two years ago when Batch led the Steelers to a 38-13 victory throwing 2 touchdown passes. Honestly, the only thing I’m worried about in this game against the Brownies is the Steelers as a whole underperforming and not Charlie making any mistakes. The Steelers need this win badly because who knows who will be available next week against the Ratbirds. In Charlie we trust. Go Steelers!
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