While there were certainly issues for the Pittsburgh Steelers on defense and special teams, particularly last night, I think it can be hardly denied that the central issue for the team this season has been the play at the quarterback position, and that really came to a head over the course of the past three weeks.
That is when rookie Devlin Hodges bottomed out. He managed just one touchdown during that span with six interceptions, three fumbles, and one fumble lost, throwing for under 400 total yards during those games and completing just 44 of 80 pass attempts.
For the Samford product, however, there was nothing special about what went wrong during that time. “Just execution”, he said. “You’ve got to be better. Execution, turning the ball over, just little things in the game that’ll cost you”.
When asked if he felt as though defenses were starting to learn what he was trying to do as he now got his play out on tape and the word was getting out about him, he didn’t think that was much of a factor in the team’s performance, nor his. “We had stuff there”, he said. “You just can’t turn the ball over, and you’ve just got to execute”.
Yesterday evening against the Baltimore Ravens, Hodges completed just nine of 25 pass attempts for 95 yards. While he did not throw an interception, he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, either, and he was also sacked twice, losing the ball once, which proved to be a critical turning point in the game just before halftime.
Hodges had been in the starting lineup, minus a couple of quarters, for most of the past six games, since he had replaced Mason Rudolph after the latter was benched following the opening drive of the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals. The rookie helped lead a comeback in that game, and he had been the starter since, though he was benched last week, only returning because Rudolph was injured.
The truth is that Hodges never should have been in the situation he was in this year, but that just speaks to the dire nature of their circumstances following Ben Roethlisberger’s injury. They had no choice but to rely upon players who had never thrown an NFL pass before, even trading the only other one on the roster who had. As it turned out, it didn’t work so well. But both he and Rudolph are young, and still possess the potential to grow.