The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: Do the Steelers have a sufficient backup quarterback plan?
Before we dig into this question, I want to make sure that we’re framing it in the right context. The subject doesn’t concern the overall state of the quarterback position, and specifically not its future. This isn’t about a succession plan. It’s about who comes into the game in 2021 if Ben Roethlisberger gets injured, and whether or not what they have is good enough to ‘get the job done’.
Roethlisberger is, of course, the starter. Barring some unlikely occurrences, Mason Rudolph will, for the third year in a row, be he primary direct backup, but it’s not inconceivable that Dwayne Haskins can throw his name into the ring. At the least, either he or Joshua Dobbs would be the third quarterback.
Basically, the backup quarterback position should be no worse than last year, and, theoretically, better. If Haskins makes the roster, it’s because he shows himself to be a better option than Dobbs, for starters. There’s also the continued growth experience, and an offensive coordinator who actually has plans for his backups.
So let’s say Roethlisberger suffers a somewhat minor injury that causes him to miss three or four games, but should be able to return without issue after that. Do the Steelers have what it takes behind Big Ben to hang on, to win a few games without him, and keep pace until he is able to get back?