This isn't about Landry Jones or Bruce Gradkowski. No, this is actually about Ben Roethlisberger.
As phenomenal a quarterback as Roethlisberger is, no one is denying that, the man is seemingly due to miss at least a couple games every season. In his career, Roethlisberger has only played a complete 16-game schedule three times. THREE times. In other words, there is a very good chance the team will have to rely on someone not named Roethlisberger to quarterback the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016.
Yes, I know there was the 2010 season where Roethlisberger didn't miss a game after being suspended to start the season, and we all hope the team doesn't need to rely on anyone but No. 7 in 2016 to lead the team to -- well, No. 7. However, if, and some might say when, Roethlisberger is knocked out of the lineup, the choices the team has at their disposal seem to have a "pick your poison" type connotation associated with it.
I am very aware of Landry Jones' off-the-bench heroics in 2015, and I know Bruce Gradkowski knows the offense as well as anyone, but if the Steelers need one of these two players to keep the ship afloat for 2-3 games, are they capable?
I'm not so confident in that answer anymore, and when news broke Monday of the Tennessee Titans parting ways with quarterback Zach Mettenberger, it certainly got my attention.
Although there are teams with a worse quarterback situation than Pittsburgh, the Steelers could, and should, be a potential landing spot for Mettenberger. If you haven't yet, go ahead and take a look at his stats. They speak for themselves, and they are atrocious, but remember one thing...he played for the Titans.
Steelers fans should remember Mettenberger from the "Berger Bowl" in 2014 when the Steelers played the Titans in Nashville on a frigid Monday Night on national television. Still don't remember the Mettenberger game? It was the game LeGarrette Blount walked out on the team after Le'Veon Bell became the one-man wrecking crew against the Titans defense. Yep, now you've got it.
After an early pick-six to William Gay, Mettenberger settled in and showed the poise necessary to win at the NFL level. If he only had weapons around him, he had the look of an NFL quarterback. Some have called him a "poor man's" Ben Roethlisberger, and I'm not quite sure what that means and why he is poor, but he does share some of the same characteristics of No. 7 for the black and gold. At 6-feet 5-inches, 224-pounds, Mettenberger has the physical stature, and lack of mobility, as Roethlisberger.
Can Mettenberger shed pass rushers like Roethlisberger? No, but not many can. What Mettenberger does have is a strong arm, decent accuracy and some much needed youth and upside to the Steelers' backup quarterback depth chart.
Of course, it all depends on the price tag. If Mettenberger is expecting to make top dollar for a backup QB then Pittsburgh certainly isn't the place for him. But if he is looking for a really good team, and offense, with the potential of a long-term stay...the Steel City could be the destination for Mettenberger.
Landry Jones is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and Gradkowski signed a one-year deal with the team at the veteran minimum. In other words, after 2016 the team will have one quarterback under contract -- Ben Roethlisberger.
This isn't a situation like Brian Hoyer when he was released from the Houston Texans a few weeks ago. Hoyer had at least some quality starting experience under his belt. Mettenberger hasn't won a game as a starter, but that doesn't mean he couldn't come to Pittsburgh and be the quarterback the team needs to turn to if Roethlisberger goes down.