You know the offseason is nearing when you start to see national media outlets throwing out rankings in hopes of catching the attention of those teams who are no longer playing. Sadly, you can count the Pittsburgh Steelers into this group, and you can count me into someone who saw this most recent ESPN article on the ‘QB Confidence Index’ and got sucked in.
This is an annual article from ESPN’s Dan Graziano which doesn’t just look at each team’s starting quarterback, but the confidence in their entire depth chart. Here is his breakdown for how he makes his decisions in this realm:
A reminder, or in case you’re new: This is not intended as a ranking of each team’s starting quarterback (though obviously that’s a big part of it). It is intended as an assessment of each team’s confidence in its quarterback situation as a whole. That means it takes into account the depth chart at the position, the starter’s age and health history, etc. Please remember that before hollering at me that Tom Brady is better than Nick Foles. I am already aware of this.
With that said, Steelers fans clearly want to know exactly where Ben Roethlisberger, Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph fall in these rankings. According to Graziano, they rank 10th.
Take a look at what he had to say about the Steelers’ ranking.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
Did you know that Ben Roethlisberger, at age 36, just set career highs in passing yardage and touchdown passes for a single season? That only six times in history has a quarterback thrown for more yards than Big Ben did in 2018? I didn’t until I researched this column. So many things happened (and keep happening!) this season in Pittsburgh to overshadow what was happening on the field. Roethlisberger remains a top quarterback, but you wonder how long that will hold up with Le’Veon Bell out and Antonio Brown maybe on his way.
Last year’s third-round pick, Mason Rudolph, is the projected backup and potential successor. Joshua Dobbs is also still under contract.
The underlying factor with this ranking, and why some might find it to be really low, is the unproven nature of the depth behind Roethlisberger. Joshua Dobbs saw limited action in 2018, and Mason Rudolph has yet to even dress, let alone take a snap, in an NFL regular season game.
The fan base loves to talk about the Steelers trade and drafting of Rudolph as the future, but the main reason why the Steelers are so low on this meaningless list is likely due to the fact their “future” has shown very little at the professional level. This isn’t a cut on Rudolph, or even Dobbs, but more so based on the fact they are playing behind a franchise quarterback who has a few years left, barring injury, in him.
For those who are curious, the following teams ranked higher than the Steelers on the QB Confidence Index:
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Kansas City Chiefs
5. New England Patriots
6. Seattle Seahawks
7. Los Angeles Chargers
8. Green Bay Packers
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Pittsburgh Steelers