After spending more than $100 million and winning two Super Bowls with Big Ben, you never really want to think about the need for a back up quarterback. But for the Steelers, we’ve been without the star QB on more than one occasion due to an apendectomy in 2006 and random other injuries since, including a concussion in 2008. Â Ben has sustained nearly 200 sacks over his fairly short career and while he’s strong and agile, those kinds of hits can’t be good for the long-term.
But this post isn’t about Ben or the hopefully improved offensive line, which should be protecting him from those hits.
This post is about two of the most important people on the team, yet who are rarely talked about.
Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon.
The Question: who is #2?
Charlie Batch was a 2nd round draft pick out of Eastern Michigan University by the Detroit Lions. Â He started for Detroit from 1998-2001. Batch was injured late in 2001 and Â later released due to some salary cap issues and the fact that Detroit had just picked up a QB in the first round. Â During the 2002 season he signed with the Steelers. Â At 6’2″ and 216 lbs, Batch is a consistent and solid QB. But he’s no super star. Â A Pittsburgh native, growing up in Homestead, Batch is likely not going anywhere and will retire a Steeler.
His stats show the consistent story. Â In 2006, he threw 31 completions out of 53 attempts for 492 yards and 5 TD’s. In 2007, he threw 17 completions for 36 attempts for a total of 232 yards and 2 TD’s. Â The 2008 season he spent on injured reserve (which is when Byron Leftwich signed with the Steelers). Batch and Leftwich were unrestricted free agents following last season. Leftwich signed with Tampa and Batch resigned with the Steelers.
Dennis Dixon, a 5th round draft pick in 2008 out of Oregon is virtually untested in the NFL. Â An early favorite for the Heisman as a PAC-10 favorite at Oregon, he suffered a torn ACL during the end of his college season. Regardless, he still received 17 votes for the Heisman and finished 5th overall. Â A dual threat as a QB who can run as well as he can pass, Dixon was said to create fear and confusion for opposing defenses. Â During his college career, he had 6,337 total yards on offense and 38 TD passes averaging a 70% completion rate.
Not only a star athlete, having also been drfted to play baseball by the Atlanta Braves, Dixon was also an exceptional student and was recognized by several academic awards in college inlcuding the National Football Foundation’s Scholar Athlete Award.
Batch is, for all intents and purposes, a go to guy in a bind. Â If Ben gets hurt, Batch can fill in and make things happen.
But Dixon, he could be the super star in the wings. Â In order to find out if he’s got what it takes, he needs to play. Â Arians needs to find ways to get Dixon in the game, give him some time and let him learn. Â If he’s got it, we need to see it.
Ben has plenty of years left in his career, but it would be great to see Dixon used in a variety of offensive schemes to confuse the opposing defense.
This is a battle I will be watching closely during training camp.
I’ll be watching for glimpses of this: