It’s quite understandable that the vast majority of the attention heading into today’s game has been centered around Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges, the undrafted rookie who is making the first start of his career after making his debut the week before, coming in cold following the concussion suffered by Mason Rudolph.
And the first team he gets to face is the Los Angeles Chargers, who boast a formidable pass-rushing tandem in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Steelers head coach is wary of them relative to Hodges, as he talked about on his show.
“I think it starts with Bosa and Ingram”, he said in discussing Los Angeles’ defense. “They’re a quality edge rush tandem. They’re really good at what they do. They’re good off the edge, they’re great rushers, both of them. I’ve gotten a chance to get to know those guys over the years, got a lot of respect for them”.
Another facet of the Chargers’ defense that he highlighted was their ability to display versatility in personnel and assignments on third downs. “Boy, they’ve got really multiple sub-packages defensively, particularly on possession downs in terms of the things that they’re able to throw at a quarterback”, he said.
“If you talk about what concerns you in terms of quarterback inexperience, the rush tandem, coupled with the sub-packaging that allows them to be very versatile on possession downs is a concern”, Tomlin added.
And while Hodges recorded a 21-yard quarterback scramble late in last week’s game, that didn’t exactly instill much confidence in his head coach. If anything, in fact, it made his job harder. “I’ve been cautioning Duck about his mobility”, Tomlin said. “It’s pretty solid on a college field. It’s less so on a professional field, and I’ll continue to sing that song”.
Hodges is never going to be mistaken for an elite athlete, in pretty much any expect. He didn’t even have a big arm, per se. But he sure knows how to throw a football and put it in a good spot, and he’s always willing to attempt just about any throw on the field.
It will be an interesting test for the young quarterback to go up a defense that is not only capable of getting after him from the edges, but can also create confusion for him before and after the snap with their coverages and the personnel that they use. We should know a lot more about Hodges before the night is through.