clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Zach Mettenberger getting acclimated to the Steelers offensive system

The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired Zach Mettenberger before the season, and he is finally getting reps at practice to gain confidence within the system.

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There is a large contingent among Pittsburgh Steelers fans who did, and possibly still do, want to see Zach Mettenberger under center if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t able to play in Week 9, rather than Landry Jones.

When asked about the decision before the team’s Week 7 loss to the New England Patriots, Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley both spoke about time in the system, confidence in the personnel and ultimately more repetitions with the starters.

None of these factors mentioned above would be considered false, after all, Jones has been in Haley’s system since he was drafted out of Oklahoma. However, although Mettenberger can’t say he has the confidence, rapport or knowledge of the system, he is starting to get more reps with the starters.

In the two practices leading into the team’s Week 8 bye, Mettenberger essentially split time with Jones, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

"We said, let's go, let's play ball, give Zach an opportunity to throw the ball, not just hand the ball off," Quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said. "It's been good work for him, and it's been good for us to evaluate it on tape."

Mettenberger has been relocated to scout team duties since being signed by the Steelers, but the current state of the quarterback depth chart, combined with the bye week, is giving Mettenberger some valuable work in the system.

So, what do the Steelers think of their latest quarterback to don the black and gold?

"He's got great arm talent, no question," Fichtner said "A little bit erratic with the slot and where he keeps his spot all the time, keeping it accurate. Plenty of arm strength, makes all the throws. He’s lighter than he might have been [before]...He’s taking pretty good care of his body. I know he cares. Above the neck, he’s pretty sharp. He's picked these things up. Now, under pressure, in the tightness of a game, 'did I really know that protection well enough to make sure I've protected myself, how can I protect myself' ... there's not a lot of that communication going on. That's the next phase. You just can't play it blind. But he's gotten better this week."

They are just practice reps, but Mettenberger is getting the chance to put his best foot forward in practice, and ultimately showing the coaching staff what he is capable of. After all, there was a reason the Steelers acquired Mettenberger off waivers when the San Diego Chargers released him.

"Obviously, our GM (Kevin Colbert) saw something he liked," Mettenberger said. "All I can do now is work hard and show he made the right choice."

The best-case scenario for Mettenberger and the Steelers is Ben Roethlisberger returns for the Week 9 game against the Ravens, but if he can’t play, Mettenberger is at least getting a chance to put his name in the hat as a viable option if his name is called upon.