The Pittsburgh Steelers have, by and large, been on an upward swing over the course of the past two and a half seasons after they missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, and failed to win a postseason game in four straight years.
Last season saw them gain that elusive playoff victory, though they came up short with about three minutes left in the Divisional round a week later. Their offense took off, and their defense improved, showing playmaking ability and opportunism.
But there are still a lot of unanswered questions facing the team as we crack into free agency territory. As an exercise, we like to take a stab at some of those questions, presenting arguments for the pros and cons of each side of the coin. This is the optimist’s take on the following question.
Question: Is pursuing recently-released quarterback Brian Hoyer the best way for the Steelers to tackle their quarterback position?
It was reported late yesterday that the Texans, after signing Brock Osweiler in free agency and having other quarterbacks in their stable, were releasing Brian Hoyer, who was their primary starting quarterback during the 2015 season, including in the Wildcard game, in which he admittedly performed terribly.
But the Steelers are in need of another quarterback, and they have always liked Hoyer, who briefly spent time in fact with Pittsburgh during the 2012 season. He not only left them with a strong impression, but the feeling was mutual.
The following year, he emerged for the Browns, and in 2014 he started 13 games for them, playing well for most of the season and even coaxing out what proved to be a temporary winning record. They were at one point a 7-5 team, tied with the other teams in the division.
Last year, with the Texans, he posted a 5-4 record in nine starts, completing over 60 percent of his passes with a 19-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a quarterback rating above 90. That is not overly impressive for a starting quarterback, all told, but it would be excellent fodder for a quality backup quarterback to a team with a franchise quarterback in place.
The Steelers do not appear committed to Landry Jones at the quarterback position, and there is really no compelling reason that they should be, given how little he has earned. He may know the offense well, but he has known shown the ability to execute it at a high level. He would be a dangerous option as a long-term starter should Ben Roethlisberger miss extended time again.
The greatest concern has been the utter lack of quality on the veteran quarterback market, which has led many to begrudgingly speculate that they are likely to draft a quarterback in the middle rounds of the upcoming draft.
With Hoyer entering the market, that changes the landscape quite a bit. He would be an immediate upgrade over Jones, is certainly healthier than Bruce Gradkwoski—and a bit younger—and should be a pretty quick study in terms of getting a feel for the offense. He also knows the division and what it’s like to work with a talented wide receiver.
A mid-round quarterback selection is usually a wasted one, and Hoyer already has a body of work behind him, and likely in front of him as well. Pittsburgh has already reportedly expressed interest in him, and for good reason, as there is a compelling argument to make with respect to him being the best way, all factors considered, to address the team’s current quarterback needs.