Opinions about whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers should address, or should have addressed, the backup quarterback position are divided even within the fanbase. When you get to the national media, the opinion is overwhelmingly yes. Maybe in the local media, too.
But it’s equally obvious, or at least should be, that, one, the Steelers are not going to, and two, that they don’t believe they need to. Because they believe Ben Roethlisberger is tracking to come back as the Ben Roethlisberger they know, and they also still believe they have a good group of backups in Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges, and Paxton Lynch.
Don’t tell ESPN that, though. In a recent Insider article, in which apparently random people were choosing the biggest roster role remaining for each team after the draft, some person named Rivers McCown who apparently covers the Houston Texans was given the go-ahead to write Pittsburgh’s blurb, focusing on the quarterback position.
The one team that did not touch its main pre-draft hole in this division was Pittsburgh, which is rolling with Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, and Devlin Hodges as the members of the quarterback room. Roethlisberger has missed portions of four of the past five seasons and made several in-season cameos in which the “240 pounds” he was listed at appeared to be just a suggestion. We can understand that Steelers fans believe he’ll be good next season, and we’re not counting that out by any chance—there’s absolutely a scenario in which he plays 16 games and throws for 5000 yards—but if he can’t stay healthy, the terrific remainder of this roster is going to be shackled with subpar quarterback play because we have no faith in the backups.
Aside from the fact that he didn’t mention Lynch—which, if I were to have done that, I would have been crucified—old Rivers was baited into the same garbage many fans were, by judging Roethlisberger’s physical fitness based on chest-high sideline shots during the winter while he was sporting large coats and a very full beard, as an indication that he was out of shape.
Not that it matters if an injured quarterback is in-shape in November, because he’s not playing any time soon anyway. He has nothing to be in-shape for. Sure, there can be a discussion over whether or not Rudolph, or Hodges, or Lynch constitutes an adequate backup, but I don’t know that I could care less how much Roethlisberger weighs while he’s recovering from elbow surgery. I’ll start caring when it’s time to train.
As for the rest, well, it doesn’t matter if somebody who covers the Texans has “no faith in the backups”, but it’s flat out silly to completely disregard the potential for growth in young players after their first taste of playing time, and in a very unusual situation. I can’t tell you the last time a quarterback as inexperienced as Rudolph or Hodges was asked to do so much coming in from a backup role, rather than having been designated the starter outright, and not even in a competition for the job at any point.