The Pittsburgh Steelers back-up quarterback situation needs attention and that was obvious when Ben Roethlisberger got hurt last year. Just looking across the NFL, the plays that the teams are using take a lot of practice to get the main players comfortable and proficient. So, because the teams get divided up, it’s rare that the back-ups practice with any of the starters after training camps. That becomes a chemistry, a familiarity issue. Call it what you will. It seems that most teams are just crossing their fingers that their quarterback doesn’t get hurt and they don’t have to use the back-up. I’ve said before that with certain quarterbacks, like Roethlisberger, who try to extend the play, waiting for someone to get open to get the down, an injury during the regular season seems inevitable. We know that defenders get away with hits against quarterbacks like Roethlisberger that would be called much faster against the pure “pocket” quarterbacks. Baltimore Ravens Terrell Suggs said it last week in a radio interview in New England. While Suggs may be hyperbolizing just a bit, there is something to what he says. Part of it is the rivalry in the division, part of it is how Roethlisberger plays, but the referees tend to let things play out a little more. Sometimes I think it is that some franchises really want to go all out against the team with 6 championships. Let’s face it, a season without a back-up QB in for the Steelers is unlikely. So, the Steelers have to put together a coherent plan with the back-up quarterback and it can’t be based on luck.
The Steelers claimed John Parker Wilson off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars on March 1st. According to Steelers.com, the Atlanta Falcons signed Wilson in April 2009 as an undrafted rookie. He played his college years at Alabama and still holds quite a few records there. According to Rolltide.com, Wilson was a starter for 2 years who “became one of the most prolific passers” in their history. According to sports-reference.com, his numbers rank in the top ten for many categories. However, he’s never play a down in a regular-season NFL game. He was active for Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct 28, 2012, but did not play. Of course, he’s been on NFL practice squads.
It does show that the Steelers are looking to address the back-up quarterback situation and they know they need someone willing to work behind Roethlisberger and take fewer snaps. Byron Leftwich had a lot of desire and heart and I believe he gave 100% every time he came in. But, his injury rate is pretty high. Charlie Batch, who said he’s coming back in the 2013 season, is getting older. A loyal Steeler who represents the organization well and who many fans just love, Batch is also getting older. He turned 38 this past year. Roethlisberger, who is still in his prime at 31, may start to recover slower from his injuries. So, I’m glad the Steelers have done something. I have no opinion about Wilson at this point, but when I saw who they signed, I thought: that’s typical of the Steelers – looking for the hidden gem, the guy who can learn their system who has been overlooked and just wants a chance to prove himself. Let’s just hope their training camp doesn’t turn into a circus like it looks like the Jets are going to have. When I saw that the Jets intend to have five quarterbacks at the training camp, I wondered how they were going to be able to evaluate any of them. However, I want to thank them for continuing to capture the spotlight. There other 31 teams are probably thankful that the Jets continue to soak up the attention so the other teams can just get to work.
Welcome to the Steelers, John Parker Wilson! Let’s see whatcha got.