I’ve been wondering about this ever since this quarterback derby to replace Ben during his suspension began in the spring. In the beginning it made sense to dismiss Charlie Batch from serious consideration as the replacement starter. At that time it was unclear as to whether Ben had a future with the Steelers at all. Was he out of control? Would a period of phony contrition lead to additional incidents with corresponding suspensions? Reacquiring Byron Leftwich seemed a smart move, even inspired. And I don’t disagree with any of it. But the situation has changed, and with it so might our thinking.
The conventional wisdom among many in Steelers Nation is that Batch is too old and too fragile to be of any further use to the franchise. Many of these same people, without a touch of irony, root for and salute yet one more rendition of the Brett Favre show; a performer who is five years older and who has a lot more mileage on his body than Batch could accumulate if he played fulltime for ten more years. Now, let’s get a few things clear. First, this is not just some knee jerk reaction to the performances in Sunday’s game. There is nothing that was displayed by any of the quarterback performances that should be considered uncharacteristic. With the exception of Leftwich each qb’s assets and liabilities were on display. Second, two things have changed that should alter our thinking about Batch being the automatic odd man out in this competition.
Number one, all indications are that whatever afflicted Ben seems to be behind him. The expectation is that the Commissioner will settle on the minimum suspension of four games. There is absolutely no expectation among league and team officials, teammates, the media or the fans that Ben will backslide. We could all be wrong of course. Number two, once it became clear that
But let’s not stop there. If Ben is going to be okay, if this is just about filling in for four games at most, then who better qualified than Batch? Of the three he’s the only one who has actually started a game for the Steelers and won other than Ben on the roster. He’s much more experienced than