Man oh, man oh, man oh, mannnn… What the heck is going on with Steelers backup QB Byron Leftwich? Is this guy a China doll trying to compete in what might arguably be the most violent sport in the world? Does Leftwich have the most rotten luck in the universe? Hmm, maybe or maybe not, especially if he continues to get paid. Does he have a loaded pair of dice in his back pocket with nothing but “snake eyes” engraved on them? He keeps getting busted up but you know what? He will be back next year.
Why? Well because current 3rd stringer Dennis Dixon is definitely going to test the unrestricted free agent market after this season and unless Dixon does something extraordinary this year, like win a few games in the absence of Big Ben or Charlie Batch, Dixon is going, going, gone.
The Steelers have kept Dixon hangin on a string for more than a minute. If they do not want the young man, let him chase some “paper” somewhere else. If the Steelers truly wanted to develop Dixon, they would have charged Leftwich or Batch to groom him as the heir apparent to Big Ben. I am certain that had they done that he would be ready to go at any time when called upon. If something were to happen to Big Ben and Mr. Batch, Pittsburgh will still have an “inexperienced” 3rd string QB at the helm. No experience, well Joe Flacco from the Ravens started as a rookie. Are his physical and mental skills that far beyond those of Dixon? Heck no but it seems as if John Harbaugh and his staff were determined to temper their young QB in the fiery furnace of real competition and although Flacco has not won the big prize yet, it appears that his best days may be yet to come.
Remember a couple of years ago Dixon was one play away from beating the Ravens, having taken no first string reps during the entire week prior to the game. Oh you don’t recall? That was the game Big Ben was experiencing concussion symptoms but insisted that he take all the first string snaps because only the four horsemen of the apocalypse would prevent him from performing. However when Saturday morning rolled around, common sense got the better of him and he had a revelation that facing fire breathing Ravens QB “assassin” Ray Lewis and his fellow “dragons” might not be the astute thing to do, especially if your chiropractor just recently retired and your insurance agent informed you from his island in the Bahamas that to compete against these “boys” at less than full strength would cause an increase in your “neckbone” deductible. Roethlisberger left Dixon and the Steelers out to dry coupled with stupid, stupid, play calling by Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Okay, I know that’s in the past but hey it still happened.
Also, let me pose this question to ya. Does backup quarterback Charlie Batch play some sort of macabre game of horseshoes with a higher power before each Steelers game? Again the 90th string QB, Batch has been elevated from oblivion to the second chair. It looks as if Charlie might receive his first social security check at Latrobe in the year 2041 competing for the 10th string QB position for the Steelers.
Of all the things that opposing defensive coordinators have to be concerned about, now they have two badass speed demons to worry about, Mike Wallace and Antonio “the meteor” Brown. If Wallace and Brown are on opposite sides and ex-Jet Jerricho Cotchery is in the slot alternating with “slowsky” #1 Hines Ward and tight end David Johnson alternates with “slowsky” #2 Heath Miller, running game, what are you talking about running game. Arians and his cronies had better take a page from Patriots/Belichick “school of cool” playbook. Take what the defense gives you and run with it. Spread em out with the pass and then gouge them with the run. 1st and 10, pass the rock, 1st and 15, spread em out and run a few draws and traps, have the Black and Gold defense do their usual and the “I’s” have it folks; game, set match.
Rashard Mendenhall is efficient, but he ain’t no Ray Rice. Rice can run inside, outside up the middle to the side and get this; last year he caught 63 balls to Mendenhall’s 23. Is forty receptions less than your main AFC North competitor acceptable? Part timer Mewelde Moore caught 29 balls in 2010. The Steelers could breeze through the AFC North with little drama if their starting running back could exit the backfield ready, willing and capable to catch the “rock.” I can hear opposing linebackers repeating over and over to themselves. There is nothing to fear but fear itself, nothing to fear, nothing to fear, nothing to, nothing…..See ya later Alligators’, I’m out.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741. Bruce is also the AFC North and NFL analyst on ‘The Odd Couple Show’ every Wednesday streaming live from 11-1130AM on Fox Sports Radio WCWA 1230 Toledo, Ohio.)