The Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Conundrum

By Curt Popejoy
Ben Roethlisberger

There is an old saying that says when it rains it pours. And right now for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is a full on gully washer going on. First the Steelers lose their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger for at least 3 weeks with an SC joint sprain and dislocated rib.

So queue up backup quarterback Byron Lefwich to start the next 3 or 4 games. There was of course trepidation but fans were quietly confident mainly because the Steelers had been doing so well running the football and the defense had been playing out of their minds.

But alas it was not to be as during the Sunday night game against the Baltimore Ravens Leftwich was also hurt, fracturing some ribs and will be out for this week’s game with the Cleveland Browns. The puzzling part about this injury was there was zero doubt to anyone in the stadium or watching at home that Leftwich was hurt badly however he never came out of the game. Veteran backup quarterback Charlie Batch never more than casually attempted to warm up.

The first question I had to ask was why; in a game the Steelers were absolutely in a position to win did Batch not go in and replace Leftwich? I have heard 2 theories. First was that Batch himself was hurt and has been for several weeks, so the coaching staff chose to leave Leftwich in and allow Batch to be fully healed, knowing they would need him the following week. I was told that this was a decision they put to Leftwich and he understood he was going to have to be going out there and continue to play hurt.

Along those same lines, there is another rumor that the Steelers staff didn’t feel like the offensive line was playing well enough to protect Batch any better than they had Leftwich and pulling him for Batch would have just meant another injured quarterback.

Both rumors seem plausible and I doubt we ever know the exact truth. At this point all the Steelers can do is move forward and try and win the next 2 or 3 football games until Roethlisberger can return. The Steelers are going to work out 2 free agent quarterbacks, former New England Patriot Brian Hoyer and former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mike Kafka this week and I presume they will sign one of them to back up Batch this week, and it is rumored Roethlisberger might be the emergency quarterback.

This entire situation is troubling and it really illustrates just how important a backup quarterback is in the NFL. The Steelers have relied on the toughness of Roethlisberger for so long that they have really not addressed the backup position properly. Now they are paying the price for it. There is not a worse time for this to all be happening with 3 division games in a row, including 2 against the Ravens. I said before last week they should have started Batch and I believe if they had they would have won. This week they should be able to get past the Cleveland Browns and Steelers fans everywhere can keep their fingers crossed that by the following week Roethlisberger is able to return.

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