They say that fans are called fans for a reason—it’s short for fanatic. And fanatics aren’t necessarily prone to the most logical ways of thinking. They tend to exaggerate, positively or negatively, amid their excitement or frustration pertaining to whatever happens to be going on with their teams.
Right now, large swaths of the Pittsburgh Steelers fanbase is in full-on bliss mode with the ascension of rookie undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges, the 6’1” slinger out of Samford who has emerged late in the year as the starting quarterback following a season-ending injury to Ben Roethlisberger.
That was actually the second domino to fall, the first being the team’s decision to trade Joshua Dobbs, though it goes without saying Hodges would have been re-signed once Roethlisberger was injured anyway. Deep into the season, with Mason Rudolph struggling with ball security, Mike Tomlin pulled him, and Duck season commenced.
And don’t get me wrong. It’s been fun. It’s been exciting. But we really ought not get ahead of ourselves. As bloggers on the Steelers, we get exposed to a whole lot of comments. Some of them are downright mad. Some of them even come from the ‘professional’ beat writers who cover the team.
Let’s get this clear. This is Duck season, not Duck Dynasty. I’ve seen people talking about what Devlin Hodges has ‘proven’. Devlin Hodges has 61 career pass attempts. Nobody has proven anything in that miniscule a sample size.
And for that matter, let’s backtrack a bit. There’s no sense in writing off Mason Rudolph, either. Though a larger body of work, he still is just 263 pass attempts, and eight starts, into his career. Before the rash of interceptions, his numbers were actually quite respectable, and the team was winning.
Right now, Hodges is not the future. Rudolph is not the past. The only thing that matters—the only thing that we should be concerning ourselves with right now—is the present, and as mentioned, right now, it’s Devlin Hodges’ time, so let’s just be satisfied with appreciating that for whatever it is, and wherever it takes us.
There is still a long road ahead for both Hodges and Rudolph. The latter is 24 years old, the former 23. Either of them can get better or worse from where they currently are as a more representative version of themselves.
Nevertheless, it must be said that Hodges has a fantastic opportunity laying in front of him. Already with two starts, and two wins, under his belt, he has the opportunity to have started six games, as a small-school college free agent, in his rookie season.
If he continues to play well, and especially if he shows growth in certain key areas, over the next four games, then we can start having conversations about what lies ahead for him. But one thing I can absolutely tell you for certain right now is that he’s not going to be the starting quarterback in 2020 as long as Roethlisberger is healthy. That goes out to those of you who already want him (AND Rudolph!, yes, I’ve read those comments too) traded.