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2017 State of the Steelers QB

 
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What do the Steelers do for a back-up QB 2017?
Draft a QB?
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Sign a veteran QB?
40%
 40%  [ 4 ]
Re-sign Landry Jones?
60%
 60%  [ 6 ]
Total Votes : 10

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Steeler Hitman


Joined: 25 Apr 2006
Posts: 1784
Location: Laurel, MD
PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:04 am    Post subject: 2017 State of the Steelers QB Reply with quote

The Steelers success or failures will ultimately ride with Big Benís health and his ability to play his game to the level that he is capable. Suspensions and injuries to other players, drama, and differences in coaching philosophy are all distractions that Ben needs to not allow them to influence his game. His primary concern should be staying healthy and keeping the offense on the field and therefore keeping the team in position to win.

There were games when the Steelers offense looked dominating, but they did not get the points to back up the dominance, yardage and time of possession advantages. The Buffalo game and the Kansas City play-off game are two games that illustrate this. Neither of those games should have been as close as the score indicated. Bell ran for over 200 yards against Buffalo and set the Steelers post season record that he smashed the week before against Kansas City with more than 175 yards rushing. As a veteran entering his 14 year, Ben owns some of that himself as well as Todd Haley as the OC and ultimately Coach Tomlin as HC.

The 2016 year was odd in many ways because the Steelers just could not seem to get it completely together. Even in games when they dominated on the scoreboard like the Jets and Chiefs at home, they just didnít seem like they were ever as good as they could or should be. Again, injuries to key players, Ben himself being hurt, and suspensions all caused the Steelers offensive engine to misfire at times.
This past season was just not one of Benís better years and I donít believe that it had anything to do with his aging or his skills beginning to erode.

When I examine the Steelers offense the past several years, they have been very unfortunate with

1. Suspensions to Bell and Bryant
2. Key injuries to Pouncey, AB, Bell, Wheaton, Green and others
3. Young players not ready for prime time Coates and Hamilton

Some of these factors over the past few years since assembling a pretty darn good offense have caused the Steelers offensive to stall like a race car with bad pistons. The one factor that we always assumed will be stable is Big Ben. We get spoiled watching Tom Brady have success with different receivers that although they are good are not in the elite category outside of Gronk and Hernandez whom he lost the past few years consecutively. Drew Brees seems to have success with the Saints throwing to different receivers every year. To Benís credit even Aaron Rogers struggled when his security blanket Jordy Nelson and others got hurt last year. Not trying to make excuses but rather understand the whyís.

Few would argue that the Steelers will not win without Big Ben as many would say the same if you took Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady off of their respective teams as well. For all those who love the Patriot way, I donít think Jimmy Garafolo comes back in the Super Bowl down 28-3 anymore than Landry Jones would. It seems like Ben has been a little frustrated the past few years as the team has been close to being able to grab Lombardi Trophy #7 and injuries, circumstances, poor decisions, and just plain bad luck have stopped them. This year looked like it would be the year that the Steelers offense was finally over the top and Pittsburgh would be in position to snatch Lombardi #7. Why didnít it happen?

1. Ben lost two of his biggest and anticipated offensive weapons for most or all of the season in Martavis Bryant and LaDarius Green. Yeah they still had AB, but AB was no longer a secret. Everyone was looking to double and triple team him. Losing Bryant for an entire year was a kick in gut for the Steelers passing game. You simply canít replace a 6í 4 215 WR who runs like a deer and can make insane catches. Yes Bryant is a little inconsistent, but for the most part, he still takes pressure off of teams wanting to double or triple team AB. LaDarius was going to be a weapon the Steelers havenít had at TE since the days of Eric Green. LaDarius is an even better athlete than Eric was and is even faster. The notion of AB, Bryant and Green long with Bell will cause many HCís and DCís sleepless nights in Pittsburgh.

2. As a result of these two not being here, at times Ben tried to force balls to AB or do too much on his own. We could say that some of this is not others stepping up, but the Steelers still had some other weapons. They werenít as sexy, but they were still attractive. I think the offense did not effectively use Bell when he returned from his suspension until after the middle of the season. Bell is a great weapon that can help take pressure off of the passing game and Ben. I also think that the offense could have used DeíAngelo Williams more as a change of pace and double threat in the backfield. Ben was also slow to be consistent in utilizing Rogers and Jessie James in my opinion. I know both struggled early, but Rogers seemed to be in the Tomlin and Big Ben doghouse early on in the season.

3. Teams double and triple teamed AB and many times no other WR stepped up to take the pressure off of AB or in some instances just were healthy enough to play. If two or three defenders are around AB, the offense has to be more creative in getting the ball elsewhere. Some of that falls on OC Haley as well. Isolate Brown on one side and take two or three defenders with him. Then throw to the middle or other side to someone else. Both teams have eleven guys on the field. James, Bell, Rogers, Hamilton or even Nix or DJ someone has to be open.
4. Slow developing cohesiveness with young receivers. Ben seemed to develop comfort early throwing to Sammy Coates. Despite some of Coates deficiencies and drops, he continued to feed him the ball. Rogers regressed after a strong opening game and I believe was actually benched one game for missing a practice or meeting. It is hard to complain about Hamilton as he actually exceeded expectations. At 6í2 he has height, but not the speed or quickness of Coates, Bryant or AB. He at times had a few game time jitters drops, but he was certainly one of the more consistent receivers not named AB. Ayer came on late and did some good things in limited action, but was not utilized much in the play-offs in the return game or as a receiver.
5. Lack of veteran presence on the outside besides AB. The loss of #2, #3, #4 and #5 WR for part, most or significant parts of season (No Bryant, no Wheaton, no Coates, no DHB). This is very telling. Ben played with Rogers, Hamilton and Ayers along with a hurt and lack of confidence catching Coates. This hurts the outside passing game, but I think Ben could have looked at other receiving options mentioned above.
6. Big Ben was not always patient on offense. This is somewhat understandable especially when you are falling behind. However, my biggest complaint is not extending drives with high percentage runs or passes. Often times Ben swung for the fences instead of making contact and driving in a run or even clearing the bases with a base hit or double. Too many times I saw balls going deep or for the end zone instead of picking up a first down. This happened on third and two or three many times when a forty yard pass was thrown or a fade to the end zone instead of a Bell run or swing pass or short pass underneath to pick up the first down. This contributed to the red zone efficiency and killed drives, time of possession, rest for the defense and even field position. Throw deep on first and second down or third and long. Many times they threw a five yard underneath on third and 25 instead of winging it deep. If you throw a 50 yard INT or dropped pass there, we are punting anyway. The odds of making third and 25 are dramatically less than making third and one or two. Letís be smart and not too cocky here.

I believe in Big Ben. I believe he is one of the best and most under-rated QBís in the NFL. I keep hoping that the stars will align for the Steelers and they have some good fortune. I still want to see the Steelers play for an extended time with their full complement of weapons (All of the Killer Bís, no suspensions or injuries, a healthy OL, an improved and healthy D, and Ben can play and lead the Steelers an entire season healthy). If that happens, I have very little doubt that many if any teams can consistently beat them including the Patriots and Ravens who have consistently had their way with the Steelers.

Many will say that it is time to start grooming a replacement for Ben. Franchise type QBís are a high investment in money, time and draft choices. Unless you get lucky and find a QB like AJ McCarin or Curt Cousins whom you can draft and develop quickly. That is not typical of fourth round QBís. There isnít much out there in this rookie class at the top, but there might be this type of QB later. The problem is teams will overdraft QBís and push other playersí value up as the numbers dwindle. The Steelers would have to invest a third or fourth rounder for this type of player. They can use that third r fourth pick to help win now by drafting at other positions of immediate need.

Everyone seems to think that there is a Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott and Tom Brady in every draft class and there is not. Keep Ben healthy. Limit the hits that he takes (get rid of the ball quicker or live for second down, third down or next series). The Steelers go as far as Benís health even with all of the tools. We know Big Ben is the key, so what do we do about Landry Jones, bringing in a veteran back-up QB or drafting one? Hereís what I think:

As far as Landry Jones goes, you let him test the market. I donít think he is looked at as a starter. I donít think he gets anywhere near low tier starting QB money of even $5 million. I think paying him $2 million is a lot, but considering he made about $700,000 last year, that may be what he and his agent are looking for. Some analyst and fans think that he can compete for a starting job elsewhere. I believe that Jones could become a starter, but not someone that could take a team to the Super Bowl or even get a team to 8-8 consistently right now. If a team makes him their starter, he is going to be very mediocre as a sixteen game starter. He will have some ups, but defenses game planning him from week to week will take its toll on him. You want of anyone who is going to be your starting QB to fall into one of these four categories ideally:
1. Elite (Rogers, Brady, Brees, Big Ben)
2. Franchise (Luck, Cam, Rivers, Manning, Wilson, Ryan)
3. Solid & Developing (Carr, Mariotta, Winston, Dak, Cousins, Wentz)
4. Veteran game managers (Alex Smith or Andy Dalton, or like former Super Bowl winning QBís Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer who won on teams with a solid defense and run game).

I donít see Landry in any of these categories. Thatís not a knock to Landry, but he just isnít there yet and I donít see him leap frogging a QB like Mariotta or Carr in the coming years. I would be quite optimistic if he could become Andy Dalton. Jones is not yet a solid game manager. I do think that he has the potential to be a decent passer in the NFL and in the right system. In my humble opinion, you want a back-up QB who can come in off the bench and lead a team to a TD or FG to win a game or can make a few throws to maintain a lead. You need a back-up who can do what Charlie Batch did in playing a four game stretch out hen Ben was suspended.
Landry has been a very slow developing QB in the Steelers offense. While I donít believe that he has peaked or hit his ceiling, I donít see his ceiling being solid starter high at this point either. Landry had early success coming off the bench and surprising an Arizona team, but has at struggled mightily against good teams when they got a week to game plan him like KC and New England did with previous starts. Even in pre-season games when he got to play with the starting OL and some of the offensive weapons, he did not light it up as well as many of us expected against the vanilla defenses of preseason.

While I am ready to bring another veteran in here to compete to be a solid number, I have changed my mind about packing Landryís bags this year though. He does know the system and is getting more comfortable in it albeit a lot slower than most of us would like. This season may be the year Landry FINALLY turns the corner. In a best case scenario, he wonít see the field except to take a knee or a la the week seventeen game against the Browns to give Big Ben late season rest. I have seen Landry and complained about wanting a better back-up as many Steelers fans have done, so why give him another shot?

There is no guarantee that whatever veteran the team brings in will grasp the offense and be as comfortable playing (heaven forbid) if Ben got hurt as Landry would be. If Landry can come back with a decent cap number, yes I let him compete for #2, but I still believe that you have to bring in another veteran for insurance. I just donít believe that this is not the year to pick up the franchise QB of the future. I donít see a Weintz, Dak or Russell in this rookie group yet. Does Landry give the team a chance to win a game or two? Maybe. He still is not a finished product.

Is Landry the a short term back-up QB solution to eventually bridge the Steelers until another franchise QB comes around? Probably not. But he would be more comfortable and better off here than elsewhere playing wise? As much as many fans (me included) would hate to hear this, Landryís best place would probably be here in Pittsburgh for another year or two.

The real question is; is that best for the Steelers as well? I would say probably so. Money will dictate if he stays or goes especially if someone is willing to pay more. Why I am somewhat skeptical about adding a seasoned vet who does not know our system is the Michael Vick experience. Vick was lost in our offense having signed after summer camp and not getting comfortable with our receivers and offense. I do believe he would have been better if given a chance year two, but he was also a year older.
Without the heat of the moment, I guess, I would be more comfortable with Landry for a relief effort than a rookie or journeyman QB without seeing how he performs.

Then there is third stringer Zach Mettenberger. He was picked up to develop and potentially be a back-up at worst and a potential starter after Big Ben retires at a very optimistic best. He is a developmental project for the future, and will be given an opportunity to compete as a number two, but many feel he is not ready. Mettenberger is very raw, but has some attractive physical tools as well. His biggest area of improvement is in his accuracy and mechanics. This is something that the OC and QB coach can work with him on. He is in a good situation with no pressure to start or play and can develop at his own pace. He can secure a #3 QB position or perhaps even surprise everyone as an unlikely back-up to Big Ben. While I find that doubtful, Zach could be in play to be that future QB who competes as the stop gap between Big Ben and the next franchise QB. I do think he may put some immediate heat in the back-up competition in a year. Zachís problem is that if Landry stays and they bring in another veteran for competition, he may be the odd man out. While I am hopeful that he can be a two or three year developmental project, the Steelers also need a good insurance policy.

Who would I bring in to compete for the back-up QB? The problem with back-ups is that they donít get enough reps in practice prior to an injury and thus donít get to KNOW the offense and players. I think that this even hurts veterans was well. Hereís a small sample of the list:

Blaine Gabbert - -
Josh McCown - -
Ryan Fitpatrick - -
Case Keenum - -
Shaun Hill - -
Matt Shaub - -
EJ Manuel - -
Geno Smith - -
Dan Orlovsky - -
Ryan Mallett - -
Mike Glennon - -
*****Blaine Gabbert
***** Blake Bortles

Below are my top five free agents/potential cut/signed:

1. Mike Glennon - - This is not realistic because Glennon believes that he can start elsewhere and he can be the Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer type in the right situation. Someone will offer up starting money and a chance to lead their team. However, he would be a great guy to groom behind Big Ben or to fill in mid game or start a game due to injury and not put the offense at a handicap. I think he is actually where Landry would want to be.
2. Geno Smith - - I think Pittsburgh would be a great situation for Geno to develop if he could put his ego aside to develop and groom in Pittsburgh. He would also have to put potential starting money aside as well. I am not suggesting that Geno has a big ego or should not try to make starting money if someone offers it. I am saying resist the urge to want to start NOW for the opportunity to develop and become a much better QB when you do start and make more money. The future is now for NFL players as tomorrow is not guaranteed. I thought about this same thing with RG III last year. It would be scary to see Geno in a few years if he developed behind a Brady, Brees, Rogers, or Big Ben.

Geno has some starting experience and has tools and abilities to improve and be a solid game manager and decent mid-tier QB. I think he would be a solid guy to have a la Charlie Batch to back Ėup Ben and potentially bridge between the next franchise QB without putting the team at a deficient in the meantime.

3. EJ Manuel - - I think Manuel was over ranked and over drafted. I loved him as a third round or fourth round draft choice, but he was drafted number one. Manuel needed time to develop which he did not get playing early. Unlike many others, I do believe that he needs a change of venue and an opportunity to develop in another system. Again the good thing here would be that he could learn from Big Ben and then be in a position to potentially take over if Ben would decide to retire in three to five years. The problem is like Geno Smith, he is young, will want to play and also make more than a back-ups salary. He has not had that second contract yet that everyone looks to make them comfortable. I am not so sure that he or Geno get the money they may want or would see all of the money if they did sign that type of contract.

The problem with Manuel is that I donít know if he is any better than Landry. I believe that Glennon and Geno are, but I think Manuel is in that same position as Landry. He is a slow developing QB who unfortunately was put out there too quick. The need of a QB should not make a team overvalue one. It usually doesnít work. However, Manuel has starter skills and talents that just need to be coached out. Not sure how comfortable I would be with him as a number two for 2017, but I think he is much higher than Zach.

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick - - I think this guy is made to be a back-up. He can come in off the bench and surprise a defense. Like most back-ups he struggles more when opposing defenses can game plan for him. He had a great 2015 and I think teams overvalued him as a result. I think Fitz could be successful filling in if Ben (heaven forbid) got hurt and could also game manage the team to a Super Bowl with the right defense and offensive components with him. Fitz like everyone else wants to get paid, but he may have to realize that the starting window is closing or close to being over. It is better to earn a few million than earning nothing. That would be hard to endure after earning $12 million plus last year. However, if Fitz finds the market is drying on him being a starter, this may be the right situation for him to be a back-up and potentially earn a ring. Yes, he is better than Landry. But he is not a QB of the future.

5. Matt Shaub - - I hear this name every year. I have never been a big fan because he has bounced around and was also thrust into being a starter. He has tools of a game manager, but he has now been clearly defined after some successes and failures in Cleveland and Houston. In my opinion, Landry Jones and Zach Mettenberger have more upside as young players to develop into that back-up type player in the right system. After seeing Shaub in the play-offs last year against the Chiefs, I do not want our team riding on his making a game winning drive or filling in.

Here are two veteran QBís that I am intrigued with for various reasons.

*****Blaine Gabbert - - He has starting experience and has tools. He has not been an effective every down starter, but could be an efficient and effective back-up once he learns the system. He carries the journeyman label, but could be a pretty darn good back-up. He wonít be an elite QB, but can come in and do some things that we want Landry or any other back-up to come in and do.

*****Blake Bortles - - The early word (NFL rumor mill) is that management may be tiring on Bortles and looking to bring in a veteran like Romo. If that happens, Blake may get the axe. Some team would try to scoop him up I am sure, depending on the timing. However, he would be a slid guy to bring in and be an eventual Big Ben replacement. He is very similar to Ben in style and would have no better mentor. I also think that he needs some time to watch and learn with no pressure. He has starting experience, but he was over-drafted and thrust into starting too soon. Not sure how he would be as an immediate back-up, but he has future franchise QB tools in the right system and with some stability.

I donít think that you get what the team needs with Case, Ryan, Josh, Shawn or Dan (the rest of this list). If he could stay healthy, I would not mind brining Gradkowski back, but he reminds me of Byron Lefwhich with his body breaking down. As a result, I donít have confidence in Grads anymore.
In conclusion, as a fan it is my sincere hope that Ben gets another ring or two before he rides off into the sunset as the Steelers greatest QB of all time. He needs to tweak a few things in his approach and execution, be patient, trust the coaches to coach and others to do their job and he does his job. I thought Ben could have been an MVP candidate last season before he got hurt. If things go well in 2017, there is little reason for him not to be in the running to win his first MVP, be named an all pro and get Lombardi Trophy number seven for Pittsburgh.

As for the back-up QB and QB of the future, I hope that we donít see any other QB in 2017 outside of the pre-season, tossing passes pre game or kneeling to close out blow-outs. I am not avoiding trying to think ahead, but this is not a great year for drafting a QB with our other needs and being close to getting another Lombardi. You bring back Landry or another veteran for insurance, but as of now, I am not looking to invest a premium draft pick on a back-up for the future when the Steelers future is NOW with Big Ben. Picking 32 next year, then I am happy with trying to get the next Jimmy Garafalo type QB to invest and develop in the future. Right now we need an edge, CB, safety, WR insurance, a back-up C, and another DL to help improve and solidify this team more than a back-up QB.
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JustPlainNasty


Joined: 11 Feb 2008
Posts: 7327
Location: Las Vegas
PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The answer is to first resign Landry and if a qb they like is available at any point in the draft it should be considered strongly.
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FourThreeMafia


Joined: 28 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Resigning Landry is the answer? Really? He has proven he has very little to offer. I guess thats the case with most backup QBs, but Id rather go a different direction than just settle for Landry's mediocrity. At least with someone new, there is a chance they could be better in Haley's system. With LJ, we know exactly what we are getting, and its not good.
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JLambert58


Joined: 30 Jan 2013
Posts: 2017
Location: Denver, CO
PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FourThreeMafia wrote:
Resigning Landry is the answer? Really? He has proven he has very little to offer. I guess thats the case with most backup QBs, but Id rather go a different direction than just settle for Landry's mediocrity. At least with someone new, there is a chance they could be better in Haley's system. With LJ, we know exactly what we are getting, and its not good.


I have been among some of the harshest critics of Landry Jones over the last four years. I thought he was trash his first 2-3 years in the league. But he has quietly progressed into something else now. If you are saying he has little to offer, you haven't been paying attention. He has improved every year. Last year, while not great, he did flash some, especially in the comeback against Cleveland. Is he a drop off from Ben? Absolutely. Does he still give us a chance to win? I think he does. It seems the light may have come on for him last year. Are there other backup QBs in the league who are better? Sure. But he is comfortable in the system, has shown he can be a competent game manager AND he should be affordable. I think he is the man to hold the fort until they draft Ben's replacement. (probably one more year)
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TXsteeler


Joined: 17 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't feel like any other QB out there is better than Landry is but we do need to draft Ben's replacement by next year as Landry is not that guy.
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JLambert58


Joined: 30 Jan 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:54 pm    Post subject: Re: 2017 State of the Steelers QB Reply with quote

Hitman, good post. Had to take my shoes off for that.

Steeler Hitman wrote:
The Steelers success or failures will ultimately ride with Big Benís health and his ability to play his game to the level that he is capable. Suspensions and injuries to other players, drama, and differences in coaching philosophy are all distractions that Ben needs to not allow them to influence his game. His primary concern should be staying healthy and keeping the offense on the field and therefore keeping the team in position to win.

There were games when the Steelers offense looked dominating, but they did not get the points to back up the dominance, yardage and time of possession advantages. The Buffalo game and the Kansas City play-off game are two games that illustrate this.

I agree we let teams hang around without sticking the dagger in leaving points on the table. That was a problem to a lesser or greater extent through much of the season.


Neither of those games should have been as close as the score indicated. Bell ran for over 200 yards against Buffalo and set the Steelers post season record that he smashed the week before against Kansas City with more than 175 yards rushing. As a veteran entering his 14 year, Ben owns some of that himself as well as Todd Haley as the OC and ultimately Coach Tomlin as HC.

Haley has to take much of the responsibility for that. But I agree that Ben should have come up bigger, though he was put in a bad position by basically losing his #2, 3, 4 & 5 WRs for some or all of the season. Bell was a godsend. Without him, the offense would have been downright offensive. Bottom line, they've got to do better next year no matter what

The 2016 year was odd in many ways because the Steelers just could not seem to get it completely together. Even in games when they dominated on the scoreboard like the Jets and Chiefs at home, they just didnít seem like they were ever as good as they could or should be. Again, injuries to key players, Ben himself being hurt, and suspensions all caused the Steelers offensive engine to misfire at times.
This past season was just not one of Benís better years and I donít believe that it had anything to do with his aging or his skills beginning to erode.

Agree Ben looked pedestrian for much of the season. Not sure why, I guess it's all about losing his receivers and injury, but it seemed like more than that.

When I examine the Steelers offense the past several years, they have been very unfortunate with

1. Suspensions to Bell and Bryant
2. Key injuries to Pouncey, AB, Bell, Wheaton, Green and others
3. Young players not ready for prime time Coates and Hamilton

Some of these factors over the past few years since assembling a pretty darn good offense have caused the Steelers offensive to stall like a race car with bad pistons. The one factor that we always assumed will be stable is Big Ben. We get spoiled watching Tom Brady have success with different receivers that although they are good are not in the elite category outside of Gronk and Hernandez whom he lost the past few years consecutively. Drew Brees seems to have success with the Saints throwing to different receivers every year. To Benís credit even Aaron Rogers struggled when his security blanket Jordy Nelson and others got hurt last year. Not trying to make excuses but rather understand the whyís.

A race car that couldn't hit on all cylinders is certainly apt. It's really hard to believe they were able to get to the AFC Championship game. It's a tribute to the growth of the defense.

Few would argue that the Steelers will not win without Big Ben as many would say the same if you took Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady off of their respective teams as well. For all those who love the Patriot way, I donít think Jimmy Garafolo comes back in the Super Bowl down 28-3 anymore than Landry Jones would. It seems like Ben has been a little frustrated the past few years as the team has been close to being able to grab Lombardi Trophy #7 and injuries, circumstances, poor decisions, and just plain bad luck have stopped them. This year looked like it would be the year that the Steelers offense was finally over the top and Pittsburgh would be in position to snatch Lombardi #7. Why didnít it happen?

1. Ben lost two of his biggest and anticipated offensive weapons for most or all of the season in Martavis Bryant and LaDarius Green. Yeah they still had AB, but AB was no longer a secret. Everyone was looking to double and triple team him. Losing Bryant for an entire year was a kick in gut for the Steelers passing game. You simply canít replace a 6í 4 215 WR who runs like a deer and can make insane catches. Yes Bryant is a little inconsistent, but for the most part, he still takes pressure off of teams wanting to double or triple team AB. LaDarius was going to be a weapon the Steelers havenít had at TE since the days of Eric Green. LaDarius is an even better athlete than Eric was and is even faster. The notion of AB, Bryant and Green long with Bell will cause many HCís and DCís sleepless nights in Pittsburgh.

Bryant was a huge loss. Arguably the difference between our season and SB #7. Green was impactful when he was on the field. I still remember that TD where he made Landon Collins look absolutely ridiculous.

2. As a result of these two not being here, at times Ben tried to force balls to AB or do too much on his own. We could say that some of this is not others stepping up, but the Steelers still had some other weapons. They werenít as sexy, but they were still attractive. I think the offense did not effectively use Bell when he returned from his suspension until after the middle of the season. Bell is a great weapon that can help take pressure off of the passing game and Ben. I also think that the offense could have used DeíAngelo Williams more as a change of pace and double threat in the backfield. Ben was also slow to be consistent in utilizing Rogers and Jessie James in my opinion. I know both struggled early, but Rogers seemed to be in the Tomlin and Big Ben doghouse early on in the season.

Ben never got in rhythm with his B-team offense, bottom line.

3. Teams double and triple teamed AB and many times no other WR stepped up to take the pressure off of AB or in some instances just were healthy enough to play. If two or three defenders are around AB, the offense has to be more creative in getting the ball elsewhere. Some of that falls on OC Haley as well. Isolate Brown on one side and take two or three defenders with him. Then throw to the middle or other side to someone else. Both teams have eleven guys on the field. James, Bell, Rogers, Hamilton or even Nix or DJ someone has to be open.

Haley never got creative enough with the offense. He should have taken a few tricks from Arians' playbook. Might have been just what the doctor ordered. Have no idea why he never called any trick plays. (I still want to see Bell throw a TD - like an old Marcus Allen play.)

4. Slow developing cohesiveness with young receivers. Ben seemed to develop comfort early throwing to Sammy Coates. Despite some of Coates deficiencies and drops, he continued to feed him the ball.

Very disappointing 2nd half from Coates. Maybe Ben thought he could spark him back into playing well.

Rogers regressed after a strong opening game and I believe was actually benched one game for missing a practice or meeting. It is hard to complain about Hamilton as he actually exceeded expectations. At 6í2 he has height, but not the speed or quickness of Coates, Bryant or AB. He at times had a few game time jitters drops, but he was certainly one of the more consistent receivers not named AB. Ayer came on late and did some good things in limited action, but was not utilized much in the play-offs in the return game or as a receiver.

Those young guys all had their moments but none grabbed their opportunity by the ****s.

5. Lack of veteran presence on the outside besides AB. The loss of #2, #3, #4 and #5 WR for part, most or significant parts of season (No Bryant, no Wheaton, no Coates, no DHB). This is very telling. Ben played with Rogers, Hamilton and Ayers along with a hurt and lack of confidence catching Coates. This hurts the outside passing game, but I think Ben could have looked at other receiving options mentioned above.
6. Big Ben was not always patient on offense. This is somewhat understandable especially when you are falling behind. However, my biggest complaint is not extending drives with high percentage runs or passes. Often times Ben swung for the fences instead of making contact and driving in a run or even clearing the bases with a base hit or double. Too many times I saw balls going deep or for the end zone instead of picking up a first down.

There were a lot questionable down and distance calls that made no sense. Ben & Todd need to do a better job of coordinating the flow and rhythm of the game.

This happened on third and two or three many times when a forty yard pass was thrown or a fade to the end zone instead of a Bell run or swing pass or short pass underneath to pick up the first down. This contributed to the red zone efficiency and killed drives, time of possession, rest for the defense and even field position. Throw deep on first and second down or third and long. Many times they threw a five yard underneath on third and 25 instead of winging it deep. If you throw a 50 yard INT or dropped pass there, we are punting anyway. The odds of making third and 25 are dramatically less than making third and one or two. Letís be smart and not too cocky here.

I believe in Big Ben. I believe he is one of the best and most under-rated QBís in the NFL. I keep hoping that the stars will align for the Steelers and they have some good fortune. I still want to see the Steelers play for an extended time with their full complement of weapons (All of the Killer Bís, no suspensions or injuries, a healthy OL, an improved and healthy D, and Ben can play and lead the Steelers an entire season healthy). If that happens, I have very little doubt that many if any teams can consistently beat them including the Patriots and Ravens who have consistently had their way with the Steelers.

Many will say that it is time to start grooming a replacement for Ben.

I haven't seen Tomlin, Colbert & Co. so hot and heavy for QB since 2013 when they took Landry Jones. Given how interested they seem, I think QB in rounds 3-5 is a STRONG possibility. (Maybe they are using it as a negotiating tactic with Landry, who knows.) But I still don't get it. Sign Landry for a three more years and then use a first rd pick on QB next year. (Unless they know something we don't about Ben)

Franchise type QBís are a high investment in money, time and draft choices. Unless you get lucky and find a QB like AJ McCarin or Curt Cousins whom you can draft and develop quickly.

Maybe That is not typical of fourth round QBís. There isnít much out there in this rookie class at the top, but there might be this type of QB later. The problem is teams will overdraft QBís and push other playersí value up as the numbers dwindle. The Steelers would have to invest a third or fourth rounder for this type of player. They can use that third r fourth pick to help win now by drafting at other positions of immediate need.

Everyone seems to think that there is a Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott and Tom Brady in every draft class and there is not.

I think it is smart of them to do their due diligence on the QBs to see if that Brady, Dak or Montana is floating around in there.

Keep Ben healthy. Limit the hits that he takes (get rid of the ball quicker or live for second down, third down or next series). The Steelers go as far as Benís health even with all of the tools. We know Big Ben is the key, so what do we do about Landry Jones, bringing in a veteran back-up QB or drafting one? Hereís what I think:

As far as Landry Jones goes, you let him test the market. I donít think he is looked at as a starter. I donít think he gets anywhere near low tier starting QB money of even $5 million. I think paying him $2 million is a lot, but considering he made about $700,000 last year, that may be what he and his agent are looking for. Some analyst and fans think that he can compete for a starting job elsewhere. I believe that Jones could become a starter


I think this is the perfect time to lock up Landry. His value is still fairly low but he looked like he could emerge into a pretty decent player. He'll be a good #2 imo and a great #3 after they find the Ben replacement.

, but not someone that could take a team to the Super Bowl or even get a team to 8-8 consistently right now. If a team makes him their starter, he is going to be very mediocre as a sixteen game starter. He will have some ups, but defenses game planning him from week to week will take its toll on him. You want of anyone who is going to be your starting QB to fall into one of these four categories ideally:
1. Elite (Rogers, Brady, Brees, Big Ben)
2. Franchise (Luck, Cam, Rivers, Manning, Wilson, Ryan)
3. Solid & Developing (Carr, Mariotta, Winston, Dak, Cousins, Wentz)
4. Veteran game managers (Alex Smith or Andy Dalton, or like former Super Bowl winning QBís Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer who won on teams with a solid defense and run game).

I think he could be a #4 type.

I donít see Landry in any of these categories. Thatís not a knock to Landry, but he just isnít there yet and I donít see him leap frogging a QB like Mariotta or Carr in the coming years. I would be quite optimistic if he could become Andy Dalton. Jones is not yet a solid game manager. I do think that he has the potential to be a decent passer in the NFL and in the right system. In my humble opinion, you want a back-up QB who can come in off the bench and lead a team to a TD or FG to win a game or can make a few throws to maintain a lead. You need a back-up who can do what Charlie Batch did in playing a four game stretch out hen Ben was suspended.
Landry has been a very slow developing QB in the Steelers offense. While I donít believe that he has peaked or hit his ceiling, I donít see his ceiling being solid starter high at this point either. Landry had early success coming off the bench and surprising an Arizona team, but has at struggled mightily against good teams when they got a week to game plan him like KC and New England did with previous starts. Even in pre-season games when he got to play with the starting OL and some of the offensive weapons, he did not light it up as well as many of us expected against the vanilla defenses of preseason.

While I am ready to bring another veteran in here to compete to be a solid number, I have changed my mind about packing Landryís bags this year though. He does know the system and is getting more comfortable in it albeit a lot slower than most of us would like. This season may be the year Landry FINALLY turns the corner. In a best case scenario, he wonít see the field except to take a knee or a la the week seventeen game against the Browns to give Big Ben late season rest. I have seen Landry and complained about wanting a better back-up as many Steelers fans have done, so why give him another shot?

There is no guarantee that whatever veteran the team brings in will grasp the offense and be as comfortable playing (heaven forbid) if Ben got hurt as Landry would be. If Landry can come back with a decent cap number, yes I let him compete for #2, but I still believe that you have to bring in another veteran for insurance. I just donít believe that this is not the year to pick up the franchise QB of the future. I donít see a Weintz, Dak or Russell in this rookie group yet. Does Landry give the team a chance to win a game or two? Maybe. He still is not a finished product.

Is Landry the a short term back-up QB solution to eventually bridge the Steelers until another franchise QB comes around? Probably not. But he would be more comfortable and better off here than elsewhere playing wise? As much as many fans (me included) would hate to hear this, Landryís best place would probably be here in Pittsburgh for another year or two.

The real question is; is that best for the Steelers as well? I would say probably so. Money will dictate if he stays or goes especially if someone is willing to pay more. Why I am somewhat skeptical about adding a seasoned vet who does not know our system is the Michael Vick experience. Vick was lost in our offense having signed after summer camp and not getting comfortable with our receivers and offense. I do believe he would have been better if given a chance year two, but he was also a year older.
Without the heat of the moment, I guess, I would be more comfortable with Landry for a relief effort than a rookie or journeyman QB without seeing how he performs.

I think the Steelers will resign Jones, draft another QB and let them fight it out for #2, and bye bye to Mett.

Then there is third stringer Zach Mettenberger. He was picked up to develop and potentially be a back-up at worst and a potential starter after Big Ben retires at a very optimistic best. He is a developmental project for the future, and will be given an opportunity to compete as a number two, but many feel he is not ready. Mettenberger is very raw, but has some attractive physical tools as well. His biggest area of improvement is in his accuracy and mechanics. This is something that the OC and QB coach can work with him on. He is in a good situation with no pressure to start or play and can develop at his own pace. He can secure a #3 QB position or perhaps even surprise everyone as an unlikely back-up to Big Ben. While I find that doubtful, Zach could be in play to be that future QB who competes as the stop gap between Big Ben and the next franchise QB. I do think he may put some immediate heat in the back-up competition in a year. Zachís problem is that if Landry stays and they bring in another veteran for competition, he may be the odd man out. While I am hopeful that he can be a two or three year developmental project, the Steelers also need a good insurance policy.

Who would I bring in to compete for the back-up QB? The problem with back-ups is that they donít get enough reps in practice prior to an injury and thus donít get to KNOW the offense and players. I think that this even hurts veterans was well. Hereís a small sample of the list:

Blaine Gabbert - -
Josh McCown - -
Ryan Fitpatrick - -
Case Keenum - -
Shaun Hill - -
Matt Shaub - -
EJ Manuel - -
Geno Smith - -
Dan Orlovsky - -
Ryan Mallett - -
Mike Glennon - -
*****Blaine Gabbert
***** Blake Bortles

Below are my top five free agents/potential cut/signed:

1. Mike Glennon - - This is not realistic because Glennon believes that he can start elsewhere and he can be the Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer type in the right situation. Someone will offer up starting money and a chance to lead their team. However, he would be a great guy to groom behind Big Ben or to fill in mid game or start a game due to injury and not put the offense at a handicap. I think he is actually where Landry would want to be.
2. Geno Smith - - I think Pittsburgh would be a great situation for Geno to develop if he could put his ego aside to develop and groom in Pittsburgh. He would also have to put potential starting money aside as well. I am not suggesting that Geno has a big ego or should not try to make starting money if someone offers it. I am saying resist the urge to want to start NOW for the opportunity to develop and become a much better QB when you do start and make more money. The future is now for NFL players as tomorrow is not guaranteed. I thought about this same thing with RG III last year. It would be scary to see Geno in a few years if he developed behind a Brady, Brees, Rogers, or Big Ben.

Geno has some starting experience and has tools and abilities to improve and be a solid game manager and decent mid-tier QB. I think he would be a solid guy to have a la Charlie Batch to back Ėup Ben and potentially bridge between the next franchise QB without putting the team at a deficient in the meantime.

3. EJ Manuel - - I think Manuel was over ranked and over drafted. I loved him as a third round or fourth round draft choice, but he was drafted number one. Manuel needed time to develop which he did not get playing early. Unlike many others, I do believe that he needs a change of venue and an opportunity to develop in another system. Again the good thing here would be that he could learn from Big Ben and then be in a position to potentially take over if Ben would decide to retire in three to five years. The problem is like Geno Smith, he is young, will want to play and also make more than a back-ups salary. He has not had that second contract yet that everyone looks to make them comfortable. I am not so sure that he or Geno get the money they may want or would see all of the money if they did sign that type of contract.

The problem with Manuel is that I donít know if he is any better than Landry. I believe that Glennon and Geno are, but I think Manuel is in that same position as Landry. He is a slow developing QB who unfortunately was put out there too quick. The need of a QB should not make a team overvalue one. It usually doesnít work. However, Manuel has starter skills and talents that just need to be coached out. Not sure how comfortable I would be with him as a number two for 2017, but I think he is much higher than Zach.

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick - - I think this guy is made to be a back-up. He can come in off the bench and surprise a defense. Like most back-ups he struggles more when opposing defenses can game plan for him. He had a great 2015 and I think teams overvalued him as a result. I think Fitz could be successful filling in if Ben (heaven forbid) got hurt and could also game manage the team to a Super Bowl with the right defense and offensive components with him. Fitz like everyone else wants to get paid, but he may have to realize that the starting window is closing or close to being over. It is better to earn a few million than earning nothing. That would be hard to endure after earning $12 million plus last year. However, if Fitz finds the market is drying on him being a starter, this may be the right situation for him to be a back-up and potentially earn a ring. Yes, he is better than Landry. But he is not a QB of the future.

5. Matt Shaub - - I hear this name every year. I have never been a big fan because he has bounced around and was also thrust into being a starter. He has tools of a game manager, but he has now been clearly defined after some successes and failures in Cleveland and Houston. In my opinion, Landry Jones and Zach Mettenberger have more upside as young players to develop into that back-up type player in the right system. After seeing Shaub in the play-offs last year against the Chiefs, I do not want our team riding on his making a game winning drive or filling in.

Here are two veteran QBís that I am intrigued with for various reasons.

*****Blaine Gabbert - - He has starting experience and has tools. He has not been an effective every down starter, but could be an efficient and effective back-up once he learns the system. He carries the journeyman label, but could be a pretty darn good back-up. He wonít be an elite QB, but can come in and do some things that we want Landry or any other back-up to come in and do.

*****Blake Bortles - - The early word (NFL rumor mill) is that management may be tiring on Bortles and looking to bring in a veteran like Romo. If that happens, Blake may get the axe. Some team would try to scoop him up I am sure, depending on the timing. However, he would be a slid guy to bring in and be an eventual Big Ben replacement. He is very similar to Ben in style and would have no better mentor. I also think that he needs some time to watch and learn with no pressure. He has starting experience, but he was over-drafted and thrust into starting too soon. Not sure how he would be as an immediate back-up, but he has future franchise QB tools in the right system and with some stability.

I donít think that you get what the team needs with Case, Ryan, Josh, Shawn or Dan (the rest of this list). If he could stay healthy, I would not mind brining Gradkowski back, but he reminds me of Byron Lefwhich with his body breaking down. As a result, I donít have confidence in Grads anymore.
In conclusion, as a fan it is my sincere hope that Ben gets another ring or two before he rides off into the sunset as the Steelers greatest QB of all time. He needs to tweak a few things in his approach and execution, be patient, trust the coaches to coach and others to do their job and he does his job. I thought Ben could have been an MVP candidate last season before he got hurt. If things go well in 2017, there is little reason for him not to be in the running to win his first MVP, be named an all pro and get Lombardi Trophy number seven for Pittsburgh.

As for the back-up QB and QB of the future, I hope that we donít see any other QB in 2017 outside of the pre-season, tossing passes pre game or kneeling to close out blow-outs. I am not avoiding trying to think ahead, but this is not a great year for drafting a QB with our other needs and being close to getting another Lombardi. You bring back Landry or another veteran for insurance, but as of now, I am not looking to invest a premium draft pick on a back-up for the future when the Steelers future is NOW with Big Ben. Picking 32 next year, then I am happy with trying to get the next Jimmy Garafalo type QB to invest and develop in the future. Right now we need an edge, CB, safety, WR insurance, a back-up C, and another DL to help improve and solidify this team more than a back-up QB.


Give me Landry, and if not, Gabbert. All these other guys will be too expensive.


Lot of food for thought. Make sure you CC Haley on this. Wink
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