The young quarterbacks have pretty much taken over much of the league at this point, with a lot of the old guard. Over half of the league is now started by a quarterback who has only come into the league within the past five years, and a considerable number of those have only been in the league for three or fewer seasons.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen—and started—a number of such players this year, and tomorrow’s game will see them pit their own undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges against second-year third-overall pick Sam Darnold against the New York Jets.
Hodges is coming off by far his worst game of the season, a home loss to the Buffalo Bills in which he threw four interceptions and only managed to lead the offense to 10 points. Jets head coach Adam Gase had some sympathy for him.
“That’s a tough assignment to go for a veteran quarterback to play against that defense”, he said of going up against the Bills, one of their divisional opponents. “It was one of those games it could have gone either way. Sometimes when you are a young player you have to fight through the rough outings you have and then move on to the next one, learn from it and try to play better the next week”.
The Steelers have little choice, as frankly the same thing has already happened to their other option, Mason Rudolph. I think it goes without saying that it’s unlikely they reach a point where they look to start Paxton Lynch.
Still, overall, Gase has been impressed with what he’s seen from the rookie quarterback. “He’s done a good job of what they’ve asked him to do”, he said. “They’re asking him to manage the game, they’re taking shots down the field, they might not hit them all but they’re keeping the defense honest and their running the football”.
“They try to create chaos on defense for the opposing offense trying to get turnovers, negative plays, flip the field that way which they’re doing a great job of”, he added, “obviously outside of interceptions and fumbles, they’re top two in both those categories so they’re playing the game exactly the way they want to”.
The Steelers’ recipe for success this season has been complementary football, with all phases of the game working in unison to create scoring opportunities or minimize opportunities for their opponents. They’re 7-1 when they held their opponents to 17 points or fewer and 1-5 when they don’t. That’s what you need to do when you start a rookie free agent out of Samford.