It’s been a while since the Pittsburgh Steelers have been in the position that they are currently in, forced to prepare a rookie quarterback to start a game. And not just a rookie, but a rookie who was the bottom-string player, who had pretty much not even worked with the players who will be out on the field with all throughout the spring and summer.
That is what has been on their plate this past week with Devlin Hodges, however, and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was asked about the challenges that that has posed. “It’s been a continuous change” adjusting the offense, he said, via a transcript provided by the team’s media department. He also emphasized getting the 11 players who will be out there together comfortable working with one another.
“I think as far as in-game planning for any new quarterback, you can’t keep it so simple that it’s not effective, but you better be careful”, he added. In other words, don’t do too much, but don’t think yourself out of doing anything at all.
One thing he has been doing this past week is looking back over whatever film he possibly can of Hodges, whether it’s preseason tape or footage from practices, going all the way back to the Spring, ti get a sense of what he is capable of doing.
“He’s had some in-game experience in preseason”, Fichtner said. “He’s had a lot of scrimmage-type opportunities down in training camp. Friday night lights, things like that. So, when you start pulling out some of the old tape there and start looking, and say, “wow, remember Duck did that”. So, that process is ongoing”.
Or it was, building up to this moment. The Steelers had just a week to prepare Hodges to make his first NFL start just five games into his career (remember, he wasn’t with the team for the opener, and he was on the practice squad for a week as well), so whatever they were able to install in that short amount of time will have to be enough.
You can’t get too complex with just a few practices at your disposal, so the most important thing to have taken place this week will have simply been to have gotten Hodges some time working with guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald and James Conner, the players he wouldn’t have worked with as the fourth- or third-string quarterback.