I don’t think it was in the plans this season for Devlin Hodges to ever start a game. Well…it obviously was not in the plans for that to happen, actually. The Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed have Ben Roethlisberger all season, of course, but that plan went awry by halftime of the second game.
Mason Rudolph won the backup job in the offseason, and this was to be his year. It would have been throughout, had he not struggled, but in doing so, he has left the door open for Hodges, who is marching his way through, duck call in hand.
This won’t be his first start, though. When Rudolph suffered a concussion in Week Five against the Baltimore Ravens, he was forced to sit out the following contest against the Los Angeles Chargers on the west coast.
While Hodges did a solid enough job in that game, he wasn’t the reason that they won. But more importantly, he wasn’t the reason that they lost, either. He completed 15 of 20 passes for 132 yards, throwing one touchdown and one interception on what was probably his only poor decision of the night.
In the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, he only completed five of 11 passes, with three passes thrown away, but for 118 yards, including a 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown to James Washington.
That was cold off the bench with no prior warning that it would happen, however, and during a week of running scout team. This week, he has been running with the first-team offense, and should be as prepared as ever to have his best outing.
“I definitely think I am better just for the simple fact of each and every day I can get better”, he told reporters last week, via a transcript. “My first start was my first start and there was a lot to learn from. It is just one of those things that each and every day I just try to go to practice and get better and just go back to enjoying the game and having fun”.
Mike Tomlin’s main takeaway in discussing Hodges’ performances of late can be summarized in the phrase, which he has invoked on multiple occasions: “he didn’t kill us”. Generally, he has made good decisions in terms of protecting the ball.
But there is always room to learn. And the more tape he gets, the more experience he gets, the more opportunities he has to learn, and the coaches to learn, where he needs to improve. They’re hoping they’ve gotten enough of that out of the way where he’ll be able to lead them to victory this afternoon against the Cleveland Browns.