Is he a roster prophet or just bitter about his imminent departure? That is the conversation surrounding Steelers longtime backup quarterback Charlie Batch and his thoughts on the Steelers drafting Oklahoma Sooner Landry Jones in the third round of this year’s draft. Charlie said this about Landry’s selection:
Maybe they weren’t happy with what they had behind Ben and Bruce. That could be. But ultimately, I think this isn’t about replacing me. Big picture, maybe they’re thinking, ‘Can we develop Landry Jones to be the starter? Maybe two years from now, he could be our guy for the next 10 years.’ We don’t know. But with the contracts for quarterbacks these days, he’d certainly be a heck of a lot cheaper than Ben at age 34 or 35 or 36.
The backup quarterback position for the Steelers has been a tough one to fill over the years. The team has auditioned many young and veteran players over the years, none with any overall success in being a dependable backup. Except good ol’ Charlie Batch. Batch was around before Roethlisberger entered the scene in 2004. He lost his fair share of games, but when it seemed the Steelers were desperate for a win with Big Ben out, Charlie would provide. The Steelers became his family, and he had many good things to say about the Steelers organization in an interview with the PPG which contained his thoughts about Jones.
Look, in no way do I feel that Batch is bitter about having to leave the Steelers. But what I do think is that his remarks cannot be dismissed as a guy who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s easy to think that the Steelers are completely invested in Ben until his body parts start falling off. It’s easy to think that the Steelers would do anything they can to keep him on the payroll. It’s easy to think that drafting a 4th rounder is in no way a person who can take the helm under center let alone replace a future HOF in Roethlisberger. At least, that’s what your favorite Ravens suck up and AFC North reporter from ESPN, Jamison Hensley had to say about it. In Hensley’s mind, he is so befuddled over the Steelers picking Jones in the 4th round in the first place, that he practically sees no career ahead of this guy – he uses Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre as his comparison.
Batch is by far from plunging off the deep end with what he is saying. Consider this – Batch has been a part of this organization for 10 seasons. He’s been around Roethlisberger since he was drafted into this league in 2004. He’s watched Ben grow up and mature into the starter and star that he is today. He’s been around long enough to have an understanding of how the Steelers do business. Ben will be a very very costly player come 2014 – $19 million in cap money in fact. The Steelers have dug themselves such a deep hole with restructuring contracts over the last few years that the amount of money piled up against them makes the IRS weep. The Steelers may have gobbled up a bunch of linemen to bolster the pass blocking for a sad state of an offensive line. Certainly, the intent was to extend Big Ben’s career after being a victim of too many sacks over the last couple of years. But, that’s not the whole picture. The offense needed better pass blockers no matter who was back there, so that there’s time to get rid of the damn ball. Period. Not every decision made about the offense is specifically for Roethlisberger. If it were, they would have done everything they could to keep Mike Wallace around.