Most people outside of Steelers fans don't understand how great Ben Roethlisberger was in 2007, but for those of us that watch and worship Steelers football, no quarterback could have done better given the circumstances. Not only is Ben one of the top 3-5 quarterbacks in the NFL, Batch is one of the best backup quarterbacks should the unthinkable happen to Pittsburgh's soon-to-be paid franchise QB.
Age and '07 Statistics: 25 years old (3/2/82) - 3,154 yards with 32 TDs and 11 Ints
Contract Status: signed through 2009 with cap hits of $5.6 million (2008) and $11 million (2009). Contract extension negotiations could be happening in earnest this very moment.
2007 Analysis: Ben had the best season by a Steelers' quarterback in franchise history, setting records in QB rating and in touchdowns. He not only put up great numbers though, he also brought the Steelers back to win with game-winning 4th quarter drives in two games (CLE, MIA), and in three other tilts, he brought the Steelers back from double digit deficits to tie the game late in the 4th (DEN, both JAC games). Ben wasn't perfect as evidence by the team's record when he threw multiple interceptions (1-3) but he was damn good considering the line that he had to deal with (47 sacks in 16 games). Ben also finally got some recognition and respect as he was voted to his first Pro Bowl.
2008 Outlook: As long as Ben doesn't get satisfied with the fat contract he's likely to get in the upcoming weeks, there's no reason to think that Ben's future can't be even brighter than his record setting 2007. He'll have another year of experience, all of his skill players are returning, and it'll be his second season in Bruce Arians's offense. The biggest improvement his game, and the offense as a whole for that matter, could use, is an upgraded offensive line which assuredly would give him more time to work his magic.
Lets let Ben set his feet and throw in '08, instead of running for his life.
Age and '07 Statistics: 33 years old (12/5/74) - 232 yards with 2 TDs and 3 Ints
Contract Status: signed through 2008 with a cap hit of $1.6 million
2007 Analysis: Batch really only played in two games (both against Baltimore) and one of those was just some second half 'mop-up' duty. His single start this year came in the final game when Ben rested for the playoffs (as did a couple other starters) and his results were respectable for a backup playing with other backups. He completed just over 50% of his passes in the game and threw for 218 yards with 2 TDs and 2 Ints. Outside of that game he mostly lined up in 'victory formation' and took 12 kneel downs.
2008 Outlook: Sure Batch is 33, but he's still one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL and there's no reason to think that will change in the next couple of years. He will be an unrestricted free agent but he likes it in Pittsburgh (his hometown) so I could see him resigning on the cheap. I could also understand him just retiring considering he has a ring. I'm sure Pittsburgh would like him to remain their backup for several more years if he's interested.
Brian St. Pierre
Age and '07 Stats: 28 years old (11/28/79) - Never stepped on the field
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
2007 Analysis: Well, St Pierre had another good year as he lived our dream of getting paid well ($855K) to do nothing. That's probably too harsh on St Pierre, but he does have a role that by definition, is a bad thing if we see him on the field.
2008 Outlook: Even though St Pierre has gotten by so far on the "he knows the system" label, he's getting to the point of being too old to be a 3rd string QB with very little to no potential of being anything more. The real problem with St Pierre now is that he can't be stashed on the practice squad because he's a veteran so he has to occupy a roster spot.
Age and '07 Stats: 24 years old (12/4/83) - Spent part of the season on Texans' practice squad
Contract Status: unknown
2007 Analysis: None
2008 Outlook: Zabransky will compete with St. Pierre and will probably win the number three job. He's got the lead going into training camp (in my opinion) based on his age, contract status, and the fact that he won't occupy a roster spot. Zabransky will probably never be starting quarterback material but he's a versatile player with great on the field leadership traits.
Needs: The Steelers need to get Ben locked up for the next 6-10 years. That's really the only need, although I wouldn't be surprised to see them bring in an undrafted free agent quarterback to make the 3rd string competition a bit more interesting.