When it comes to the Steelers quarterback situation, there are a few things I’m certain of. First, Ben Roethlisberger is better than any other quarterback on the roster and it’s not even close. Second, Ben Roethlisberger throwing to JuJu Smith-Schuster and other Steelers teammates in shorts in May doesn’t mean much to me.
I saw the collective buzz around Steelers Nation and while it’s nice to see Roethlisberger throwing, it doesn’t mean much of anything other than his elbow is clearly at a point where he’s able to do so. It tells me nothing about his ability to shake off the rust after nearly a year off (once the season starts), it tells me nothing about his ability to stay healthy when the team hits the field for 16 games and it tells me nothing about how good the offense will be (other than the presumed notion they will be far superior to last years offense).
This brings me to my third certainty, Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges are not the backups this team needs. It’s a bit late into the off-season to be worrying about this now but that’s the situation the Steelers find themselves in.
Roethlisberger has only played a full 16 game season four times in his sixteen-year career. What would make the Steelers, or anyone for that matter, believe that he could play a full season a year after suffering a significant elbow injury that prevented him from playing in 14 games? If he were 28 years old and not 38, I may buy into that but unfortunately the body’s aging process doesn’t slow down for anyone.
Steelers current backup situation
I’m not suggesting the Steelers should move on from Big Ben. I’m not suggesting he shouldn’t be the starter. I’m also not suggesting he can’t lead this team deep into the post-season and win a Super Bowl. I am, however, suggesting the team needs to find a better backup than what they currently have on the roster.
If they want to believe Mason Rudolph is still their future quarterback, fine, hang on to that pipe dream. I’ll argue that idea another time. But after what we saw last year, to assume he can fill in and win for Roethlisberger four perhaps a quarter of the season is ridiculous.
I felt the team should have signed Andy Dalton. They didn’t. I felt the team should have signed Joe Flacco, he’s now a Jet. Now, they must turn to a guy better than both, but one who may be a bit pricier, Cam Newton.
Last year, the New Orleans Saints proved that having a strong backup can keep your season alive when your Hall of Fame Quarterback goes down for a significant period of time. Teddy Bridgewater filled in admirably for Drew Brees.
Cam Newton can do the same, if needed, for Roethlisberger. He’s a former starter with significant experience, an NFL MVP, and Super Bowl quarterback who has a similar style to Big Ben. If, and yes it’s a big if, he can check his ego to be a backup to Roethlisberger, he’d be a perfect fit. He could even have use on quarterback sneak plays that the Steelers may not want to risk Ben on any longer.
Newton could help develop Rudolph and perhaps if Ben retired in a year or two, he could even be the starter for a few years until the Steelers find their next franchise guy.
Yes, this is easier said than done but it’s worth exploring. I don’t think Ben is going to play a full season this year, Cam Netwon can be the guy that helps guide this team to the post-season along with Big Ben.