We shift our focus to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Quarterbacks after opening our Training Camp Preview with Tight Ends. To say this is a position of vital importance for the Black and Gold is an understatement. Last year we saw just how crucial it was as Ben Roethlisberger missed the majority of the campaign following elbow surgery. But there’s a lot more here than just that because the backups are a major issue as well.
By The Numbers
2019 Passing Yards: 2,981 (31st), 186 yards per game (31st)
2019 Passing TDs: 18 (29th)
2019 Sacks Allowed: 32 (10th best)
Ben Roethlisberger (17th year)
In 2018, Big Ben led the NFL with over 5,000 yards passing. We now know, as it was fully exposed in week two of 2019, that he did that with an elbow that wasn’t quite right. Roethlisberger last saw action against Seattle when the elbow became too much to bear and has since had it surgically repaired and is ready to go this season. What can be expected? That’s anyone’s guess. The fire is still there and so too is the enthusiasm. If the elbow holds up then the sky is literally the limit with a number of weapons to utilize and a solid offensive line in front of him.
Mason Rudolph (3rd year)
Rudolph enters his third season after an up and down campaign that saw some highs and some lows for sure. Rudolph threw for 13 touchdowns and 9 interceptions while completing 62% of his passes for 1,765 yards. Not ‘terrible’ numbers for a guy the Steelers’ Coaches did not want to rely on in year two but there is obviously a lot of room for improvement. Rudolph must anticipate throws better and ‘throw his receivers open’ meaning he has to put the ball out in front versus where they are when he throws it. He has worked very hard this offseason on his pocket mobility which is good. His ‘heavy legs’ often betray him and he must improve that area of his game.
Devlin Hodges (2nd season)
“Duck” Hodges performed well enough in Camp last season so that Kevin Colbert felt confident in trading Joshua Dobbs to Jacksonville. Hodges would lead the Steelers to a huge win at the Chargers and would create for himself a bit of a cult following. He threw for 5 touchdowns and 8 interceptions to go with a completion rate of 62% and 1,063 yards. He has to take a big step forward to keep his current status.
Paxton Lynch (4th Season)
Hard to believe but Lynch was a first round selection by the Denver Broncos not that long ago. He’ll enter 2020 looking, at the very least, to unseat Duck Hodges as the third QB. As our Coach Bobby laid out a couple of weeks ago, Lynch has the tools to be a quality QB but can he put it all together? One would have to think that if he can’t, his NFL journey would likely be over.
The former Ohio State signal caller will be a long shot to make the roster. A practice squad spot could be in his future but that’s as far as I see it going for Barrett.
Your top two quarterbacks are a done deal. Big Ben and Rudy will anchor those spots. The battle is for the third QB position and if you think this isn’t a big deal then allow me to point you to last season in Pittsburgh. Hodges performed well early on but as the season progressed, defenses started to figure him out more and more. As they limited the Steelers’ running game, Hodges became less and less effective. His inability to get the ball downfield was a major blow to the Steelers’ chances in the final weeks. Lynch will no doubt see an opening but he must prove he can run the offense and take care of the ball in order to get the nod over the well-liked Duck.
My Roster Projection: Roethlisberger, Rudolph, Lynch