Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Bruce Gradkowski

By Matthew Marczi

End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.

Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.

Player: Bruce Gradkowski

Position: Quarterback

Experience: 8 Years

Bruce Gradkowski had the best season a backup quarterback has had with the Pittsburgh Steelers since Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004. Roethlisberger himself was the backup to begin that season, and ended up putting together a pretty respectable season in his own right. But Gradkowski’s season is what you want to see from your backup.

And that’s because he didn’t play a single snap, despite dressing for every game.

When you are a team that has an unquestioned franchise quarterback, that is the ideal scenario, to have a backup that never has to take a snap. And in fact, this was the first year in his eight-year career in which Gradkowski wasn’t asked to toss at least 11 passes.

Gradkowski had made 20 starts in his career, and appeared in at least two games in every year until this past season. For the Steelers’ sake, that new trend will continue for the duration of his stay with the organization.

Because naturally, that meant Roethlisberger was able to get through an entire season in good health. Given that that happened only once in his 10-year career, six years ago, that’s certainly a significant development.

Gradkowski has obviously proven in the past that he can be a capable backup player, which includes a victory over the Steelers while he was with the Oakland Raiders. He has also fulfilled that role for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cleveland Browns, and, most recently, the Cincinnati Bengals, which is what attracted the Steelers to him.

That doesn’t mean that you want him playing, however. After all, he is a backup for a reason, and unless your team is in the middle of a second-half rout, it means that your starter is down for one reason or another.

Gradkowski has a career 21-24 touchdown to interception ratio, and has also lost half of his 20 total fumbles. He has completed just under 53 percent of his 709 passes for a mere 4057 yards, which equates to a yards per attempt figure of 5.7. His career quarterback rating stands at just 65.8.

But you have to take into consideration the pieces he had around him, as well as the fact that almost half of those figures come from his rookie season, when he made 11 starts for the Buccaneers.

He wasn’t throwing to Josh Gordon when he was with the Browns. The Raiders haven’t had a notable receiver in many a year, and 307 of his career pass attempts were spent aimed at the likes of Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and Chaz Schilens. Spoiler: there’s nary a Pro Bowl betwixt them.

So let’s take this time to celebrate the best season a backup quarterback has had behind Roethlisberger since the beginning of his pro career: a year spent with a clip board in his hands and a hat on his head, rather than a helmet. And let’s hope for an encore performance this year.

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Marcus Gilbert
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G David DeCastro
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G Ramon Foster
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Kelvin Beachum
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – RB Le’Veon Bell
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – C Fernando Velasco
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – FB Will Johnson
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Brett Keisel
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – NT Steve McLendon
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Cameron Heyward
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – OLB LaMarr Woodley
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – OLB Jason Worilds
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – ILB Lawrence Timmons
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – ILB Vince Williams
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – CB Ike Taylor
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – CB William Gay
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – S Troy Polamalu
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – S Ryan Clark
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Jerricho Cotchery
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – RB Jonathan Dwyer

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • steeltown

    I like the Grad signing, he seems like a hard-nosed Pittsburgh Steelers type. As mentioned he’s never been an elite talent, but he also was on some pretty bad Teams throughout his career. In the end, I’d feel more comfortable with him out there rather than Byron Leftwich or a 40yr old Charlie Batch

  • Luke Shabro

    And we can all lament the pick of Landry Jones but what’s done is done. That’s the past and lets all just hope Landry turns out to be the future #2 not Omar Jacobs.

  • steeltown

    Yea.. it makes sense to bring in a young guy like they did.. Grad signed a 3yr deal, the hope is Landry may be able to take over the #2 spot when that contract is up. You always want to get younger at EVERY position.

  • cencalsteeler

    Both Grad and Jones should be assigned to help Tomlin with clock management decisions. Nobody is perfect, and I understand head coaches have a lot going on during a game. There is no reason why these two understudies should not be involved in contributing to clock management. And yes, I have to shout out again, that one of these guys should be holding the ball for the kickers. I noticed the Pats had Brady holding in the playoffs. We had Zoltan Mesko holding for us during the Raider game and I could swear the holds were at an odd angle for Suisham. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, but, Mesko is no longer a Steeler and Grad and Jones are still here. In fact, Suisham had to go through having two different holders during the season when there were two worthy candidates standing on the sidelines all season long. There’s more stability this way as opposed to relying on transient punters to make those crucial holds, IMO.