It is still too early to tell whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be ready to return to action this week for the Sunday game against the Baltimore Ravens and the same goes for injured backup Byron Leftwich as well. What we do know right now is that four quarterbacks on the roster will be one too many in a matter of a week or two.
Brian Hoyer was signed off of the street last week to play emergency backup to Charlie Batch against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. He was signed because he is a quick study and familiar with the terminology that offensive coordinator Todd Haley uses in his offense. Haley also said last week that the former New England Patriots backup is a smart guy who’s working his backside off to be in a position to help us if he needs to.
All of the above aside, you have to wonder if Hoyer is a guy that Haley, and the rest of the coaching staff for that matter, has confidence in moving forward. Is he a quarterback that can serve as a long time number two or number three quarterback on the roster moving past the next couple of weeks? If he is, then the Steelers should keep him and ditch Batch, guaranteed salary and all.
For those of you that thought Batch should have been the number two after Roethlisberger went down, I think you saw first hand on Sunday why he wasn\’t. Leftwich is indeed injury prone, but his arm strength, when healthy, gives the Steelers a better shot at running their normal offense should he ever have to play another down.
Can Batch beat the Ravens this coming week? He hasn\’t in his other two starts since arriving in Pittsburgh. Sure, it would have been hard for even Leftwich to overcome the 4 fumbles by the running backs in the Browns game, but Batch just can\’t keep defenses honest enough because of his lack of arm strength. The field becomes much shorter because of that.
Should Batch start again on Sunday against the Ravens and win it will be because the Steelers can run well enough against stacked fronts without turning the ball over. It will also require another top notch effort by the defense in addition.
Am I suggesting starting Hoyer over Batch against the Ravens if both Roethlisberger and Leftwich are indeed down again? No, but it does have to be considered even if the outcome will most likely wind up being the same. With the limited time that Hoyer has been on the roster it is hard to expect him to do much more than Batch did against the Browns. Timing and complete understanding of an offense just does not happen overnight. In short, that is very unlikely to happen as there just isnit enough time to prepare two quarterbacks properly.
This post, however, is not aimed at what may or may not take place next Sunday in Baltimore, but instead aimed at moving towards the end of the season and the future. If the Steelers think that Hoyer is “serviceable” down the road, they have to consider holding onto him at the expense of Batch.
Should the Steelers wind up waiving Hoyer soon, you will know that he was brought in only for his football smarts and not his ability. This of course would explain why he was on the street when the Steelers called. Good backup quarterbacks don\’t grow on trees.