There really hasn’t been much that Devlin Hodges has done since May that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been displeased with. While that wasn’t initially enough for them to decide that he merited a roster spot, outright, over Joshua Dobbs, his quality of play and potential was enough for them to determine that they could trade Dobbs and bring Hodges back.
And he continued to show them enough that they made the decision to give him this opportunity to be the starter late in the season, following the injury to Ben Roethlisberger and the struggles of Mason Rudolph, who started about half the season.
Hodges is now 3-0 in the three games that he started, the first non-replacement quarterback in the common era to ever do that as an undrafted rookie, and he can make it 4-0 with a win over the Buffalo Bills tonight.
He continually earns the right to retain his starting job each week by making significant plays in significant moments, and one that stood out to Mike Tomlin during the win a week ago over the Arizona Cardinals was the two-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson.
“Man, that’s purely a timing play. We saw during the team development process that he had an aptitude for it, even as far back as Latrobe, but in-stadium circumstances are a little bit different”, he told Bob Pompeani on The Mike Tomlin Show last night. “Couple that with the fact that the snap was low, and he had to bend down and get the ball and recalibrate his eyes and do the things that you do to make the play. It was a special play”.
There is a video showing Tomlin greeting Hodges as he came off the field following that touchdown pass, and he made sure to let the young quarterback know that was a “varsity throw”. It was Hodges’ fourth touchdown pass of the season, against two interceptions, but one would certainly hope that he might be able to get two or more in the same game one of these weeks.
Despite the fact that he hasn’t had JuJu Smith-Schuster to work with—and still won’t, yet again today—Hodges has had some rapport with the more novice receivers, finding Johnson and James Washington for some big and significant plays over the course of the past three weeks.
As well as the defense is playing, that relationship is not only going to have to continue, but to grow even further. If the offense can actually more consistently hold its own and at least put up 24 points per game or so, which in this era of football is really not asking too much, then the Steelers would be the deadliest wildcard in the NFL, even more so than the Seattle Seahawks.