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Steelers Dick LeBeau aims for 19th win in 21 games against rookie quarterbacks

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The Steelers' defense under Dick LeBeau has choked out rookie quarterbacks far better than Tennessee's Zach Mettenberger. He's 18-2 since 2004 against them, and Mettenberger will be the third-lowest drafted quarterback (including undrafted free agents) to start against LeBeau during that period.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Quarterback Rookie Drafted Date Tm H/A Opp Result CMP ATT Cmp% Yds TD INT Rating Y/A
Eli Manning Rookie 1-1 12/18/2004 NYG PIT L 30-33 16 23 69.57% 182 2 1 103.9 7.91
Kyle Orton Rookie 4-106 12/11/2005 CHI @ PIT L 9-21 17 35 48.57% 207 0 0 67.2 5.91
Charlie Frye Rookie 3-67 12/24/2005 CLE PIT L 0-41 20 39 51.28% 183 0 0 64.4 4.69
Bruce Gradkowski Rookie 6-194 12/3/2006 TAM @ PIT L 3-20 20 34 58.82% 175 0 3 35.8 5.15
John Beck Rookie 2-40 11/26/2007 MIA @ PIT L 0-3 14 23 60.87% 132 0 0 76.7 5.74
Troy Smith Rookie 5-174 12/30/2007 BAL PIT W 27-21 16 27 59.26% 171 1 0 90.2 6.33
Joe Flacco Rookie 1-18 9/29/2008 BAL @ PIT L 20-23 16 31 51.61% 192 1 0 81.7 6.19
Joe Flacco Rookie 1-18 12/12/2008 BAL PIT L 9-13 11 28 39.29% 115 0 2 22.2 4.11
Colt McCoy Rookie 3-85 10/17/2010 CLE @ PIT L 10-28 23 33 69.70% 281 1 2 80.5 8.52
Colt McCoy Rookie 3-85 1/2/2011 CLE PIT L 9-41 20 41 48.78% 209 1 3 41.6 5.10
Jimmy Clausen Rookie 2-48 12/23/2010 CAR @ PIT L 3-27 10 23 43.48% 72 0 1 33.2 3.13
Blaine Gabbert Rookie 1-11 10/16/2011 JAX @ PIT L 13-17 12 26 46.15% 109 1 0 70.8 4.19
Andy Dalton Rookie 2-35 11/13/2011 CIN PIT L 17-24 15 30 50.00% 170 2 2 61.8 5.67
Andy Dalton Rookie 2-35 12/4/2011 CIN @ PIT L 7-35 11 24 45.83% 135 1 0 77.6 5.63
Robert Griffin III Rookie 1-2 10/28/2012 WAS @ PIT L 12-27 16 34 47.06% 177 1 0 72.8 5.21
Brandon Weeden Rookie 1-22 11/25/2012 CLE PIT W 20-14 17 26 65.38% 158 1 1 78.7 6.08
Thaddeus Lewis Rookie UDFA 12/30/2012 CLE @ PIT L 10-24 22 32 68.75% 204 1 1 83.3 6.38
Geno Smith Rookie 2-39 10/13/2013 NYJ PIT L 19-6 19 34 55.88% 201 0 2 48.8 5.91
E.J. Manuel Rookie 1-16 11/10/2013 BUF @ PIT L 23-10 22 39 56.41% 155 1 1 63.5 3.97
Blake Bortles Rookie 1-3 10/5/2014 JAX PIT L 17-9 22 36 61.11% 191 0 2 52 5.31
Total 2-18 339 618 54.9% 3419 14 21 5.53
Average game 16.95 30.9
170.95 0.7 1.05

Produced by Behind The Steel Curtain
Info provided by Pro Football Reference

The results are pretty clear. Rookie quarterbacks, whether making one or two starts against Dick LeBeau's defense since 2004, haven't fared well overall, either in their individual performances or leading their team to victory.

Tennessee's Zach Mettenberger will start Monday for the Titans against Pittsburgh, ranking as the second-lowest draft pick (6-178) to start as a rookie against the Steelers during Dick LeBeau's tenure as Steelers' defensive coordinator. Coincidentally, Steelers backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is the lowest draft pick (6-194) and he also produced one of the most miserable starts for a rookie quarterback against this defense when he was with Tampa Bay in 2006. Buffalo's Thad Lewis was undrafted before his start in 2012.

By contrast, through 20 starts, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 18-2 as a starter during the regular season, having lost to the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts by Week 12 of the 2005 season.

This table doesn't take into account the post-season, where the mark would be 2-19 for rookie quarterbacks. The Steelers defeated the Joe Flacco-led Ravens three times in 2008 en route to a Super Bowl championship. Flacco, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and Browns quarterback Colt McCoy all were swept by the Steelers in their rookie years.

The Steelers lost to Baltimore's Troy Smith 27-21 in 2007, a game in which the Steelers' starters did not play for the most part because they already had clinched a division championship and their first-round game was already set against Jacksonville. They lost to Brandon Weeden and the Cleveland Browns in 2012 after the Steelers' offense turned the ball over seven times at crucial points in the game (the game's final play, a razzle-dazzle with no time left on the clock, was also a fumble recovered by the Browns).

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