Monday, November 19, 2012
Starting Batch isn't bad option for Steelers
By Jamison Hensley
For the second time in two games, the Steelers lost a starting quarterback to rib and shoulder injuries. That's really unlucky, right? Not necessarily.
Losing starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a major hit to the Steelers because he was having an MVP-type season. Losing Byron Leftwich on Sunday night doesn't have the same ramifications.
There's a huge dropoff from Roethlisberger to Leftwich. But some might argue that going from Leftwich to Charlie Batch will help the Steelers.
Team and league sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that Leftwich fractured two ribs early in Sunday night's 13-10 loss to the Ravens and is unlikely to start Sunday at the Browns. It is believed Leftwich injured himself falling in the end zone on his 31-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the game.
What the Steelers lose is Leftwich's strong arm. What they gain with Batch is better game manager and a proven track record.
Leftwich hadn't won a start since 2006. Batch is 5-2 as a fill-in starter since joining the Steelers in 2002. Last December, Batch helped the Steelers beat the Rams, completing 15 of 22 passes for 208 yards with one interception. This is the exact scenario for why the Steelers decided to carry Batch as the third quarterback. Most teams would be scouring the free-agent market right now if they lost two quarterbacks. There's no such panic with Batch.
The concern with Batch is his age. He's 37 (which actually makes him older than Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden) and raises questions of how long can Batch last.
This is why the Steelers need to make sure they add another dependable quarterback. Pittsburgh could look at the likes of Tyler Palko (whose ties with offensive coordinator Todd Haley date back to Kansas City), David Garrard and Seneca Wallace.
Starting Batch may only be for one game. There is a chance that Roethlisberger could start next week at Baltimore, although it's more likely he will be available for the Dec. 9 game against San Diego.
The Steelers (6-4) trail the Ravens (8-2) by two games in the AFC North and hold a one-game lead over the Bengals (5-5) for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.