Is backup quarterback still the Steelers biggest need?
The Steelers were able to fill many of their holes this offseason through the draft and free agency, but here’s why backup quarterback is among their biggest needs.
We know by this point in the offseason how Steelers lead dogs, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, feel about adding a quarterback – it’s just not something they are interested in doing. Colbert expressed several times this offseason that they were “comfortable” going into the season with Mason Rudolph as their number two passer and that they like the guys they have in place.
However, the conversation arose yet again in a recent article from Bleacher Report outlining every team’s biggest remaining needs. For the Steelers, Kristopher Knox wrote backup quarterback. Here is some of what he had to say:
"On paper, Pittsburgh possesses a roster capable of contending for a championship. However, everything hinges on the health of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is signed through 2021, but he’s also 38 years old and coming off a significant elbow injury. There’s no guarantee he’ll be healthy, return to pre-injury form and stay that way following elbow surgery and nearly a year off. That’s a big problem because the quarterback tandem of Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph has shown it isn’t good enough to spark a playoff run."
While the Steelers may not be interested in adding a backup quarterback, perhaps fans should be. We all know that Pittsburgh will have a very good chance to compete with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, but we have no idea how a very serious elbow surgery will affect his game in 2020.
Even if Ben were to return to the field completely healthy, history shows that it’s just a matter of time before he goes down again. Roethlisberger has missed game action in 4 of his 5 previous seasons and has played 16 games in just 4 of 16 NFL seasons. At 38 years old, the odds are certainly stacked against him.
Knox suggests that the Steelers should go after Josh McCown or Trevor Siemian to be Ben’s insurance policy in 2020. While these are less than stellar options, Pittsburgh may have already waited too long in searching for their guy.
Pittsburgh elected to ignore addressing the quarterback position in both the draft and free agency this offseason, and it could come back to bite them. Pittsburgh will be praying that Ben stays upright this season if they are to make a run at a Super Bowl before Roethlisberger calls it quits.
If Rudolph is forced to step in for the Steelers this year, he will need to be much better than he was a season ago to keep Pittsburgh in the hunt for Ben’s absence. If Rudolph is forced to play in the playoffs (assuming we make it that far), we can kiss our Super Bowl dreams goodbye.
I know none of this is going to change Tomlin or Colbert’s minds about their decision to stick with the backup quarterbacks they currently have. However, nothing is more important to Pittsburgh’s season than Ben’s health this year. Let’s hope they are making the right choice.