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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Take your pick recap: Steelers QBs

By James Walker
ESPN.com

This week's "Take your pick" in the AFC North involves the hottest topic in Pittsburgh. The question is, who should be the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting quarterback in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons: Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon?

Here are responses from our division inbox and AFC North Twitter:

I choose Leftwich!

Joe from Atlantic Beach, Fla., writes: Byron Leftwich should be the starter for the Steelers on Sept 12. He has the experience of being a winning starter in the league as well as success in filling in for Ben Roethlisberger in the past.

Nick from Pittsburgh writes: Leftwich, no question. He's got the experience and he's much better at dropping back and firing a quick, hard throw. Dixon holds the ball too long and seems too indecisive--just look at the pick he threw in the end zone against Denver. The QB just needs to manage the game and not make too many mistakes until Ben is back, because the defense will give the Steelers a chance to win.

Matt from Richmond, Va., writes: I'm guessing Leftwich gets the nod. Aside from experience, his ability to utilize the deep ball with Wallace and the other speed receivers probably interests [offensive coordinator Bruce] Arians. However, it would be a shame if Dixon isn't utilized in a few series each game. His athleticism is what makes him an asset in the first four games.

Big Snack from Indy writes: As much as I like Dixon and wanted him to win the job as he gives the offense another dimension, we have to go with Leftwich to start the season. He minimizes the risk during the first four games. We can't have those interceptions that Dixon threw against Denver. I still think Dixon has great potential and can provide a spark, but he may not be quite ready for the starting gig. Either way, we have to rely on superb defense and a solid running game to weather the early storm until Ben gets back.

Mike from Pittsburgh writes: It has to be Leftwich. He is more experienced, he makes better decisions and makes them faster. Charlie Batch should have been given a chance. But since that won't happen, it has to be Leftwich.

I choose Dixon!

Boris from Mangilao, Guam, writes: I believe Dixon should start against the Falcons. He did make some mistakes in Denver. But if he is allowed to run more, then those costly interceptions should diminish. Also, the O-Line is still porous. Leftwich is like a statue back there and he can't escape the rush like Dixon or Big Ben.

Kevin from Pittsburgh writes: Even after Sunday's game, I still think they should go with Dixon. Sure, he made some mistakes. But he's young and learning fast. He can only get better. Leftwich on the other hand is a veteran and struggling against both starters and backups.

Anthony from Princeton, N.J., writes: Neither one is great but at least Dixon has mobility. Leftwich looked like a stone in the pocket. Dixon has the talent, he just needs to make better decisions. If Dennis turns his potential interceptions into nice little scampers then maybe we can get through the Ben-less games over .500.

Dave from Chicago writes: I'd go with Dixon. I know he struggled a bit with Denver, but I just think overall he brings more to the table with his mobility. He also seems a bit more Big Ben like in that he has a way to escape if the pocket breaks down, which might be an issue this year. Ben will shed tacklers and still throw deep and Dixon can use his mobility and run, whereas Byron might just get sacked since he doesn't have Bens strength or Dixon's feet.

Bill Graham from Houston writes: Dixon is inexperienced and uncomfortable in Arian's offense, while Byron has a slow release and lacks mobility. I think Dixon's issues can be addressed to a certain degree before the season starts, and with his mobility he gives the Steelers a better chance of winning.

What about Charlie?

Patrick Charles from Columbus, Ohio, writes: I think if Mike Tomlin wants to win any of these four games without Big Ben, he should start Charlie Batch. He's better in the pocket than Leftwich and he processes information faster and makes the right decisions on where to go with the football.

Roamer from Odenton, Md., writes: They all looked horrible. I'd go with Chuck Batch. At least Batch has proven in the past that he can fill in on a short term basis. Leftwich looked good in his few opportunities two years ago. But realistically, Charlie Batch is the most familiar with the offense and is the best candidate to nurse the team through the first four weeks. Gonna be a rough start either way. I've never gone into a season hoping the Steelers would be 2-2 after a quarter of the season.

Ray Gorman from Anaheim, Calif., writes: I say go with Charlie Batch. Neither Dixon or Leftwich has shown me enough to feel confident, and Charlie can step onto the field after flipping hamburgers for a year and win three out of four games for you.

Ben from Groton, Conn., writes: Forget Leftwich and Dixon. Charlie Batch should be the Steelers' QB the first four weeks. He made some nice throws and the pick-six was a miscommunication as opposed to a flat-out awful decision. He's easily the most accurate of the three, reads defenses the best and is mobile in the pocket. The only real problem he's had in his limited playing time since being in Pittsburgh has been injuries, because he's been very solid while healthy.

Steve from Milltown, NJ, writes: I think Batch should start. Leftwich has been terribly inaccurate. Dixon shows that he needs more reps to be ready. Batch is accurate and the biggest knocks I have heard on him are he lacks arm strength and mobility at this point (so does Leftwich). Batch is the best combination of ability and veteran presence.

Other options?

NadroJH via Twitter writes: I'd take Neil O'Donnell at this point.

EWayne2010 via Twitter writes: Tommy Maddox.

DrTarzain via Twitter writes: Trade for Troy Smith.

Nkeefer7 via Twitter writes: Bring back Slash. My pick is Kordell Stewart.

TheBen120 via Twitter writes: I'm officially throwing Antwaan Randle El's name in the hat since we're just drawing anyway.

AFC North final say

To wrap it up, we check in with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.

Matt Williamson: The short answer is Dennis Dixon. If you asked me a few days ago that would have been an easy answer, but he looked horrific Sunday. Dixon turned over the football. He didn't throw the ball away and forced it into coverage. I'm under the assumption Pittsburgh's defense is going to be very, very good this year. So you need a game manager, a move-the-stick guy, and I think Dixon can do that at his best. I’m usually not a big believer in runners over throwers at quarterback. But if you only have him for four weeks, Dixon is awfully hard to prepare for. He can scramble for first downs if things break down. And the big picture thinking is if Dixon performs well, there’s going to be people offering draft picks at the end of the year to make him a potential starter. Leftwich is what he is. His flaws and his strengths have never changed. So in a tie, I like Dixon.