2019 South Side Questions: Do Steelers Need Different Backup Plan At QB?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Do the Steelers need a different backup plan at the quarterback position?

The Steelers managed to post a record of 8-6 in 2019 in the 14 games started by their backup quarterbacks, which included a 5-3 record in the eight games started by Mason Rudolph, and a 3-3 record in the games started by Devlin Hodges. It can certainly be debated how key a role they played in the wins, but it was often more clear-cut that they were major factors in the losses, with several of them featuring multiple giveaways.

In an offseason in which Ben Roethlisberger is recovering from surgery on his throwing elbow, and hasn’t even yet started throwing, one has to begin to wonder whether or not he can be effective in 2020, or at least how many games he will be able to play.

The Steelers surely feel as though this season proved that they have a championship-caliber defense. They are probably less convinced that they have a backup plan at quarterback sufficient enough to shoulder the load if Roethlisberger is not available for an extended period of time.

The reality is, of course, that 99 team out of 100 are not going to go very far without their starting quarterback, and that the Steelers even posted a winning record is commendable. So are we overreacting to what we saw from the position this year simply because it was on such a large scale?

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