The Pittsburgh Steelers were at a crossroads after week two of the NFL season. They stood at 0-2, with their franchise quarterback now done for the season. Kevin Colbert was left with two choices. He could simply do nothing, and recoup what surely would have been a high first round pick. This in turn would’ve allowed them to potentially draft their next franchise quarterback. His other option was to trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, and make a run at the playoffs with a greatly improved defense. Colbert chose the latter, and it is hard to argue with the results. The trade completed a defensive rebuild that had been going on for nearly ten years. Finally, this team can boast a championship caliber defense. There’s only one problem. The quarterback play in 2020 may not be good enough to make any of this matter. Here’s a breakdown of what next year’s quarterback room will look like.
Devlin Hodges/Paxton Lynch:
It’s likely the Steelers will have both back to compete for the third QB spot on the roster. As the season went on, the holes in Devlin Hodges game became more and more evident. He does not possess the arm strength to be a starter in the NFL. The “Duck” narrative was fun for a while, but that bubble burst some time ago. By the time next season rolls around, it will have been more than two years since Paxton Lynch has thrown a pass in a regular season game. There’s a reason for this, he’s not very good. Neither of these players will ever be more than what they are, third on the depth chart.
Has any quarterback ever had more of a rough ride than Mason Rudolph in 2019? He was knocked unconscious by Earl Thomas, nearly clubbed to death by Myles Garrett, and finally what he thought was a separated shoulder turned into a life threatening dislocation. In between all these calamities however, we saw enough to know there’s a very low ceiling with Mason Rudolph. He was given ample time to improve as the season went on before finally being replaced by an undrafted free agent in Devlin Hodges. It’s still early to pass final judgment, but a path as a career backup seems more than likely here.
So its come to this. The Steelers have pinned all their hopes on a 38 year old quarterback coming off major elbow surgery. If Ben Roethlisberger can come back to even close to 100%, then you have an instant Super Bowl contender. That’s a big “if” going into next season. Roethlisberger has never been known as an off-season workout demon in the past. Now he faces the most grueling rehabilitation of his career just to be able to step foot into training camp. Work ethic aside, no one knows if all the rehab in the world will even make a difference. All this said it is too early to know how Ben’s injury situation will unfold, but there is plenty to be concerned about.
The Pittsburgh Steelers do not have any other options at the quarterback position. As talked about earlier, they no longer own their first round draft pick. That makes drafting an impact player at that position very unlikely. The team also does not have the cap space to replace Mason Rudolph, let alone to get a starting caliber quarterback. The only route to a successful season in 2020 begins and ends with the comeback of Ben Roehtlisberger. Without that, expect plenty of 8-8 seasons in the Steelers future.