With Byron Leftwich (knee) injured and Ben Roethlisberger (suspension) unavailable for the first four games of the regular season, the latest word out of Pittsburgh is that the Steelers are considering making Charlie Batch their opening-day starter.
Of course, I believe Dennis Dixon is the best choice. If the Steelers must greatly cut down their playbook and use fewer protection schemes and adjustments on offense with Dixon, perhaps a move to Batch makes a little sense. Otherwise, I think Dixon is much harder to prepare for.
Batch is a known commodity, a safe choice. He knows the system and the league. He probably would not turn the ball over as much as Dixon. An intelligent 13-year NFL veteran from the Pittsburgh area, he is respected and trusted by his teammates and the organization.
Batch also is a declining player. His physical skills are not close to any of the other Steelers' QBs. Batch isn’t going to improvise like Dixon or Roethlisberger. He isn’t going to extend the play and make something big happen with his arm or legs. More often than not, Batch will throw the ball away and live to fight another day. Of course, that isn’t all bad -- especially if Pittsburgh’s defense is as strong as I expect. But Batch also will not drop back and threaten a defense deep outside the numbers. There are throws that he just can’t make, which limits his play-calling.
Batch did very little during the preseason. The Steelers did everything possible to give the other three passers significant quality time in preseason games. So there absolutely must be some rust with the 35-year-old. Also, while this isn’t important for this short-term decision, Batch is injury prone. Durability is a huge concern with him.
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