The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph, and now Devlin Hodges? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
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: Will Devlin Hodges be on a ‘short leash’ if he has a bad first half against the New York Jets?
The Steelers are in survival mode with two games to play and can’t afford any slip-ups. Even a loss by the Tennessee Titans this week wouldn’t mean anything because they play an NFC team. If the Steelers lose to the Jets and the Titans also lose, Tennessee would own the tiebreaker because they would have the same conference record, the same record in common games, but would have a superior strength of victory. If the Titans and Steelers both lose one more game, the Titans’ loss HAS to be against the Houston Texans in Week 17 to benefit the Steelers.
And the way Pittsburgh’s team is situated, the fundamental attribute of the quarterback position is ball security. Both of their quarterbacks have now shown the propensity to lack this quality. 5.1 percent of Devlin Hodges’ passes have been intercepted, and he has also fumbled on three sacks.
When Mason Rudolph was displaying similar issues in an important game the week after he threw four interceptions, Mike Tomlin yanked him out and put in Hodges, looking for a ‘spark’. He’s been in since, but now he’s in the same boat.
The question is, will Tomlin make the same call? If Hodges throws a pick or two in the first half and isn’t moving the ball well, will he yank the rookie and put Rudolph back in? He said that he doesn’t coach for failure, but ball security is ball security, and that’s essential for this sub-par offense.