The Pittsburgh Steelers defense will get their first taste of a rookie quarterback under defensive coordinator Keith Butler when they travel to Philadelphia to take on Carson Wentz and the Eagles on Sunday. In what was former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s bread and butter, eyes will be on Butler to see if the coordinator can replicate his predecessor’s success against rookie quarterbacks.
Butler surely will have his work cut out for him in attempting to replicate LeBeau’s near impeccable track history against rookie quarterbacks. Rookie quarterbacks were a lopsided 2-19 against LeBeau’s Steelers, throwing for just 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
LeBeau’s numbers against all rookie quarterbacks may be impressive but it does not consider that it is impossible to rank all rookie quarterbacks as a similar quality. A third-round pick forced into action may not have the same skills and tools that a first-round quarterback such as Wentz possess. Examining LeBeau’s numbers against first-round quarterbacks would be more beneficial in judging the quality of LeBeau’s defense against more prepared rookie quarterbacks. In the 8 games that a first-round rookie quarterback lined up against LeBeau’s defense, they combined to a 1-7 record, completing just 54.3% of their passes, with 7 TDs and 7 INTs.
Wentz may the biggest rookie test for the Steelers defense since Joe Flacco’s first rookie matchup against the Steelers in 2008. Wentz has guided the Eagles to a 2-0 start, completing 60.6% of his passes with 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. With Wentz being turnover free thus far, it will be interesting to see how Butler game plans against his first rookie quarterback. Perhaps in order to continue an old tradition of manifesting off rookie quarterbacks started by his predecessor, Butler will turn to another old tradition of his predecessor by dialing more blitzes in order to disrupt the red hot Wentz.