The AFC north is changing, and not for the good of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The past few seasons have seen two of the four teams land the number one overall pick in the NFL draft. The Cleveland Browns landed Baker Mayfield two years ago, and now the Cincinnati Bengals are about to get the most exciting quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. Joe Burrow is headed to the Bengals coming off the greatest single season any quarterback has had coming out of college. Those two alone would be enough, but it gets worse. The Baltimore Ravens have the sure fire NFL MVP in Lamar Jackson. Jackson led the Ravens to the best record in the AFC in 2019, while revolutionizing the quarterback position.
Then there’s the Steelers’ quarterback situation which basically hinges on the health of Ben Roehtlisberger. If 2019 showed anything, it’s that Pittsburgh does not have his replacement currently on the roster.
Let’s analyze each team’s quarterback situation going into 2020:
The NFL has been leaning towards more mobile quarterbacks for years. The Ravens just so happen to have the mother of all mobile quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson. Coach John Harbaugh completely revamped his offense to take advantage of Jackson’s skill set, and it worked to the tune of the best record in the NFL this past season. Jackson threw for over three thousand yards and thirty six touchdowns, while only throwing six interceptions. That doesn’t tell the whole story however. He also ran for another 1,200 yards to go along with 6 more touchdowns. His playoff troubles aside, this kind of dual threat quarterback the league now covets.
The Cincinnati Bengals picked the right year to be the worst team in football. They are now in a position to draft the most dominant college quarterback…..maybe ever. The 2019 Joe Burrow season is almost too good to believe. A perfect season, a national title, and a Heisman Trophy all while dominating the best conference in the country. Burrow finished the season with over five thousand yards passing, and sixty (yes 6…0) touchdowns. Cincinnati already has a very good running back in Joe Mixon, and a few decent receivers to surround their new quarterback. How they build the offensive line will be the key for Burrow’s overall success in 2020.
Where do we begin with the Cleveland Browns…….
This is the poster franchise for ineptitude over the years. All the chaos surrounding this team has taken its toll on Baker Mayfield. That’s not to say Mayfield hasn’t been the cause of some of his own misery. The media was too quick to anoint the Browns quarterback the next big thing in the NFL, and it may have gone to his head.
Now that the Browns have once again reset the franchise by firing their coach and general manager, the hope is this time they got it right. New head coach Kevin Stefanski is a successful offensive coordinator who should help Mayfield find his way. The real challenge for the Brown’s head coach is to tame the circus that surrounds the team. Do that, and Mayfield may turn into the quarterback we all thought he might be.
The Steelers quarterback situation is as murky as it has been in over fifteen years. With Roethlisberger out for the season, Mason Rudolph flopped in his first opportunity to lead this offense. He was so bad in fact, he was replaced by an undrafted free agent in Devlin Hodges. Hodges gave the team a spark initially, but fell off as the competition he played against improved. By season’s end, Pittsburgh almost had to go to their fourth quarterback in Paxton Lynch. It’s come to this: Paxton Lynch must be the starter in week 17
All the Steelers hopes going forward are pinned to the surgically repaired elbow of the now 38 year old Ben Roehtlisberger. This is a version of Big Ben that will be without his favorite target Antonio Brown as well. In his last three starts without AB, the Steelers QB is 1-2, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Despite all the craziness, there’s no doubting Brown was an integral part of Roehtlisberger’s success with this offense.
With no first round pick, and no legitimate player to take his place, the Steelers quarterback situation begins and ends with Ben Roehtlisberger. Even with a healthy Roehtlisberger, the Steelers may have been passed by at this crucial spot on the offense. One things for sure, without him Pittsburgh is dead last in the division and possibly even the entire league when it comes to quarterback play.