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Some Steelers fans are too obsessed with who is holding the clipboard

Too many are finding it hard to let go of the Steelers current back up quarterback situation

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it’s this again. It’s the topic which has been coming around and around the entire offseason. But until Steelers fans begin to move on in regards to the Steeler signing another player for the back-up quarterback position, the subject is just not going to go away.

Yes, I understand it’s pretty cliché to say the back-up quarterback is the person who holds the clipboard on the sidelines. I’m sure now with headsets and arm bands and Surface Pro tablets, the clipboards have been put away. But for those of us who have been watching the NFL for 20 years or more, the clipboard has become synonymous with the back-up quarterback position.

In an article this past week here at Behind the Steel Curtain, deputy editor Michael Beck raised the question as to what is the biggest issue with the Steelers going into the 2020 season other than the health of Ben Roethlisberger. While commenters on the site made some very excellent choices as to where the Steelers need to improve in 2020, it didn’t take much in looking on social media platforms to see many screaming about the back-up quarterback position.

Really? This is the most important thing to the Steelers? Forget young wide receivers, questions at running back, an aging offensive line, and some shaky depth at various places on defense. The guy who Steelers fans do not actually want to see come into the game is still the biggest concern with part of the fan base?

I know, the quarterback position is the most important position on the field. We saw it play out in 2019 over and over. Without a high-quality quarterback, it is difficult to qualify for the postseason in the NFL. But how far will the Steelers go in 2020 with a quarterback not named Ben Roethlisberger? While I’m sure there will be plenty of comments saying about how there are numerous players available who would be an improvement over what the Steelers have, I’m not going to argue with it. But are we as fans of the greatest franchise in professional sports looking for an improvement, or excellence? Is it about winning an extra regular season game or two or bringing home a Lombardi trophy?

When it comes to the Steelers front office, there is a lot more to the situation which fans are not necessarily grasping. In an interview this offseason with local media, General Manager Kevin Colbert talked about the quarterback room. Yes, Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin, and even team President Art Rooney II have all stated the Steelers are confident moving forward with the current players they have at quarterback. But Colbert also said a couple things worth noting which some fans may not have picked up on right away.

Youth vs. Veteran

Kevin Cobert talked about how the Steelers philosophy was when it came to the quarterback room. When Ben Roethlisberger was young, they wanted a veteran back up. Now that Ben Roethlisberger is the veteran, they are looking for younger, developmental players. While the obvious salary constraints are one issue, there is something fans may not be picking up on which could be very important.

The Steelers don’t want another veteran in the room with Ben Roethlisberger.

This isn’t a knock on Roethlisberger to say the least. It just appears the Steelers want the room to be Ben’s room. Have fans ever really considered the dynamic within the position group? Perhaps the Steelers feel they are better preparing each week with only one veteran in the room.

“If needed”

What if Ben Roethlisberger can’t come back to where he was before? What if he gets hurt again? What if? What if? What if?

While asking “what if” questions can be tiring, it would also be foolish not to prepare for a worst-case scenario. And as he was speaking over someone else at the time, Kevin Colbert threw in a little phrase which should answer all the questions Steelers fans have about the position. He simply said the Steelers will address the quarterback position “if needed.”

In other words, if the unfortunate circumstance of the 2019 season would return in 2020 where Ben Roethlisberger would be put on Injured Reserve, look for the Steelers to make a move a quarterback at that time. They attempted to do it in 2019, but the options were limited as most had already signed with the XFL.

While there are still some intriguing names out there the Steelers could bring in for 2020 at quarterback, this is not the time. Later on this summer, I hope the Steelers do sign Cam…


Rather than allot money to a player fans don’t want to step on the field and instead only hold the clipboard, the Steelers would be better off paying their own players.

I know Cameron Heyward may not be the best example as a new contract for him may actually reduce his salary cap number for 2020. But I hope you understand my point. The Steelers have many players who will not be under contract after the 2020 season. What is more important to winning a championship, having a quarterback in case Ben Roethlisberger goes down, or retaining some of the Steelers key players beyond this season for a another chance at a Super Bowl run? For me, it’s option two always, every day, and twice on Sundays.

I really wish I wasn’t writing on this issue again. I’m sure some of you are as tired of it as I am. But as long as the subject is brought up, I feel the need to continue to address it.

No, this has nothing to do with the fact I was thrilled with the pick of Mason Rudolph back in 2018. Yes, I have serious doubts when it comes to Rudolph and his future with the Steelers. But both mine and the organizations doubts are not going to be answered with another season being third string and not even getting a practice rep outside of running the scout offense.

Mason Rudolph will be holding the clipboard for the Steelers in 2020. The Steelers have said it and I believe them. And if Ben Roethlisberger goes down for a short period, look for him to come in much like he did when he came off the bench in 2019 and looked solid to start. But if Ben Roethlisberger goes down for the season, look for Rudolph to continue to hold the clipboard and the Steelers to address the problem in another manner at that time.