No one ever likes to get bad news. Today Pittsburgh Steelers fans got a big dose of it as it was announced that the Steelers would be without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as they prepare to go against division rival Baltimore Ravens this Sunday night. This is due to a shoulder and rib injury suffered by Roethlisberger in last weekend’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. In his place will be veteran signal caller Byron Leftwich. With this, like most things related to the Steelers, I have some thoughts.
First, why announce it today? Teams have no obligation to report an injury like this until Friday so there doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to go ahead and let the Ravens know that Roethlisberger won’t be playing this many days in advance. You would think they would have partaken in a little gamesmanship and at least left the Ravens wondering if they would need to prepare for Roethlisberger rather than Leftwich. Doesn’t seem to make any sense to me how a move this early can benefit the Steelers in any way.
Secondly, starting Leftwich, if backup quarterback Charlie Batch is healthy is a terrible idea. Leftwich is a nice player, but that elongated, exaggerated throwing motion forces the entire rhythm of the offense to be off. It was obvious when he came into the last game. Against a team like the Ravens, using a rhythmic, paced passing game is going to be a key to winning, and Batch understands the offense and is much better about getting the ball out of his hand quickly. Neither quarterback is mobile, but in that short passing game with those weapons, Batch can get rid of the football quickly and hit targets in stride. The playbook for Batch would much larger and against an undermanned Ravens defense this team is rip for the picking.
I am going to remain confident but concerned this weekend as I think this team has enough defense and running game to beat the Ravens, but I would feel more confident if there was someone other than Leftwich under center.