A 2014 sixth-round pick out of LSU by the Tennessee Titans, former NFL quarterback Zach Mettenberger got a good number of opportunities to play early in his career due to injuries to those in front of him. Perhaps things would have gone better for him if he were not thrust into that level of responsibility.
He started 10 games in his first two years and lost all of them. He ended up being let go twice over the course of the offseason o 2016, eventually landing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who claimed him off waivers after backup Bruce Gradkowski suffered another season-ending injury.
Mettenberger spent the entire year on the bench, only dressing for the season finale in which Ben Roethlisberger was inactive because the Steelers had nothing to gain or lose by the result. When they drafted Joshua Dobbs in 2017, however, the team released him, and he never found another landing spot.
Fast forward two years and he finds himself once again on the bench. And this time he is the backup to Christian Hackenberg, a former second-round bust of the New York Jets. It takes a lot for a team to move on from a second-round pick that quickly, especially at the quarterback position.
After Hackenberg threw two quick interceptions for the Memphis Express during their third game for the Alliance of American football over he weekend, however, he was benched in favor of Mettenberger, who came in and completed nine of 12 passes for 120 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
While his late efforts proved to be in vain, it was the best that the passing game had looked all season. So it’s with little surprise that Express Head Coach Mike Singletary announced Mettenberger would be his starter going forward, with his first start coming this weekend against the San Diego Fleet, who are 2-1 on the season.
“It’s everything you play for. It’s hard not to get excited about that”, Mettenberger said about the opportunity to work with the starting lineup. “All I have to do is go out there, do my job, get the playmakers the ball and hopefully we’ll get the win”.
The Express offense might actually include among the least accomplished group of ‘playmakers’ of the eight AAF teams, their leading wide receiver being Reece Horn, who spent the past couple of years playing football in Austria and Italy. I didn’t even know they had leagues.
Memphis is currently 0-3 on the season, which can largely be attributed to the poor play at the quarterback position. They were blown out in the first week, but were within a field goal in each of their subsequent losses.