Steelers Against Browns: Watch Your Expectations
Dec 24, 2011; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) celebrates with quarterback Charlie Batch (16) after making a 46-yard catch during the game against the St. Louis Rams at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Pugliese-US PRESSWIRE
I said it when the Steelers played the Oakland Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals. I’m also saying it for this game against the Browns. Do not come into this game with high expectations just because the Browns are having a terrible year. Steelers’ fans’ expectations are likely lower because Ben Roethlisberger is still out and Charlie Batch, this year’s third-string QB is starting. You have to hope the Browns don’t find a way to take advantage of the Steeler’s lack of offensive continuity. At the same time the Browns might be starting to get their own offensive continuity going. Those two things could be bad for the Steelers.
Cleveland’s rookie QB, Brandon Weeden, may not be having the same year that Robert Griffen III and Andrew Luck are having, but he’s a capable quarterback. Things with the Browns seem to be going better over the last few games and we don’t want the game against the Steelers to be where things come together for them. Yes, I know Dick LeBeau’s record against rookie quarterbacks. So what? Records are useless before and during the game and should be reserved only for comparisons following a game. Records can create a false sense of security and teams shouldn’t live in the past.
Charlie Batch is one of my favorite Steelers players, mainly for how he carries himself, uncomplainingly does everything the Steelers ask of him, and how he participates in a lot of charity events in Pittsburgh. He’s a hometown player and certainly gives back to the community. Batch is an older player, but he’s done what the Steelers asked of him, stayed in shape so that if needed he could compete on the field. There just is never much hands-on preparation time for the back ups. My concern is how the game plan gets adjusted to use Batch’s strengths. I was disappointed with how the game plan evolved for Leftwich. It seems to me that the game plan for Leftwich gradually became beyond his ability because of Leftwich’s obvious physical discomfort. We want players to be tough and not let things get to them, but honestly, I think Leftwich tried to be too stoic. It’s hard to fault people who try hard, but it made the difference in the loss. The loss clouds how the Steelers’ defense kept the Ravens from scoring an offensive touchdown. We should be talking about that, but instead, we’ve got our own little quarterback controversy. But the past is the past, so let’s move on. All the players say they have confidence in Batch and I believe it. He’s a good teammate and I want the offensive line to keep him upright. We need to have a game without seeing a quarterback go down and end up out of the game.
So, the Steelers fans need to approach this game with a hopeful attitude but not with high expectations. This is the Steelers third game with a different quarterback and if anything happens to Batch, then we’ll have a quarterback who barely knows the names of his teammates. I think signing Hoyer was a great choice, but if he has to come in, well, I’ll be really nervous because he hasn’t developed any relationships with his receivers. You can be professional all day long, but if you don’t have the familiarity with the personnel your chances of success are a bit diminished.
I am cheering for Charlie Batch to have an outstanding game because I think he’s earned it. I would love to see him credited with several touchdown passes too. So, my fingers will be crossed that the offensive line stands firm and Batch has time to get the plays off. I saw during his locker room interview someone asked if he will be wearing any rib protections. He didn’t elaborate but said that he’s going to wear what he always wears. I’m thinking rib protection might be a good idea.
On a side note – congratulations to Ben Roethlisberger and his wife Ashley on the birth of their son Benjamin Jr. on Nov 21st.