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Mike Tomlin and the 2019 Steelers are entering rarefied air while on their third QB

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on their third quarterback of the season, and the fact they are winning puts them in rarefied air.

NFL: DEC 01 Browns at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers are breaking the trend in the NFL this season by pulling off a winning record despite starting three different quarterbacks throughout the season. Not only are they currently the only team with a winning record in this category, they are the only team that has a chance to finish above .500 on the season.

While starting three different quarterbacks or more throughout the season is not uncommon, success of said teams usually depends completely on the circumstances. For the Steelers, it began with the season ending injury to Ben Roethlisberger. After Mason Rudolph started several games before missing time with a concussion, it seemed the Steelers division of labor at the quarterback position was strictly due to injury. But as Mason Rudolph continued to struggle in the later part of November, the Steelers made the change to Devlin Hodges.

Another factor in using three quarterbacks which enters into the equation is Devlin Hodges being an undrafted rookie. Factoring this into the equation, a whole new level of statistics can be evaluated.

When An NFL team is experiencing a “quarterback carousel,” most of the time success is hard to come by. Between losing a high-quality quarterback or constantly trying to figure out which player can bring the team the most success, winning along the way is not usually in the cards. It takes a special franchise to still win as these problems present themselves.

Case in point, the last time an NFL team started three different quarterbacks and had a .500 record was in 2017 in the Arizona Cardinals. Starting Blaine Gabbert, Drew Stanton, and Carson Palmer, the Cardinals went 8-8 with Stanton as the only QB with a winning record of 3-1. To go back and find a team with a winning record, it would be 2016 and the New England Patriots where Tom Brady was 11-1, Jacoby Brissett was 1-1, and Jimmy Garoppolo was 2-0. As you may recall, the Patriots were put in the situation due to Tom Brady‘s suspension over “Deflate-gate.”

As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the last time they started three quarterbacks in a season was in 2015. During the season, Ben Roethlisberger was 7-4 while Michael Vick was 2-1 and Landry Jones was 1-1. The Steelers finished 10-6 and earned a wildcard birth and defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the playoffs before falling in Denver to Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

In the Ben Roethlisberger era, the Steelers have found themselves starting three different quarterbacks six different seasons including 2019. Other than the aforementioned 2015, the Steelers also started three quarterbacks in 2012 (8-8), 2010 (12-4), and 2005 (11-5) in a season in which they won the Super Bowl. So since 2005, the Steelers still managed to qualify for the postseason in four of the five seasons. Prior to the 2005 season, the last time the Steelers started three different quarterbacks was in 1985 when they went 7-9 between Scott Campbell, David Woodley, and Mark Malone.

Whether or not the Steelers will finish the season above .500 remains to be seen, but their current success along the way has been a great testament to their defense as well as the coaching staff. While each week seems to be an individual struggle for a plan for victory, when the 2019 season is over perhaps the Pittsburgh Steelers may get some much deserved recognition in retrospect for overcoming the issues they have had to face at the quarterback position.