The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Where does the Steelers’ backup quarterback position rank relative to the rest of the league?
Generally speaking, most backup quarterbacks don’t really put up very good numbers. Not even the beloved Charlie Batch was very statistically successful. In Pittsburgh, he completed just under 60 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, though he did average 7.4 yards per attempt. Landry Jones completed just under 64 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions, averaging 7.8 yards per attempt.
The ‘good’ backups tend to earn starting jobs, or to get them back. See Teddy Bridgewater from a year ago. The Steelers had the misfortune of needing to piece together 14 and a half games’ worth of quarterback play from their backups last season, though, a very rare occurrence.
Mason Rudolph was their primary quarterback, and in roughly the same number of pass attempts that Batch had with the Steelers, threw for 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions, but he averaged just 6.2 yards per attempt.
He returns entering his third season, and joining him are Devlin Hodges and Paxton Lynch. J.T. Barrett is in the room as well, originally coming to the Steelers on Christmas Eve as a practice squad signing after Rudolph was hurt against the New York Jets.
How does this group rank against the backup positions with other teams? For the record, Jared Stidham does not count as a backup for the New England Patriots. Some notable examples include Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett, Jameis Winston, Case Keenum, and whoever loses the Los Angeles Chargers’ job between Tyrod Taylor and rookie Justin Herbert.