Friday, September 3, 2010

Dixon should start for Steelers, Ben remains a selfish idiot

By Jeff

Charlie Batch is a good person. OK, I've never met him, but that's what everyone says. He is a capable quarterback, but he shouldn't start for the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 1. Dennis Dixon should.

The third year player out of Oregon had a setback last week against the Denver Broncos. His first interception was poor judgment. The pass had no chance of getting past two defenders and into his receiver's hands. The second was a poor throw. It just didn't get to the receiver quick enough and ended up going the other way for a touchdown. Emmanuel Sanders didn't do much to try and prevent the pick, so not all the blame can be placed on Dixon.

Give him a fair shake.
As bad as the performance was, fans and the media were too quick to kick Dixon to the curb and say he wasn't ready to start in the NFL. Many figured the job was now Byron Leftwich's or Charlie Batch's. Leftwich got hurt last night, so that won't be happening, but Batch is still a possibility. I realize I am in the minority here, but the job should be Dixon's. He gives the Steelers the best chance to win.

Players have poor games in the NFL. Young guys with limited snaps with the first team are going to make mistakes. Both of the plays could have been avoided and Dixon can learn from both by watching film and simulating similar situations in practice. The Steelers should send him out against the Atlanta Falcons and let him prove he is the right man for the first four weeks of the season.

Dixon was fighting an uphill battle since the Steelers traded for Leftwich. I think he was trying to force things in his first game-action with the first team in Denver, and that's when mistakes happened. I doubt Dixon throws that first interception in the endzone if he wasn't trying to elevate himself above Leftwich. Players do different things when they are playing for a spot and when they know the spot is theirs.

Now, one could argue that the pressure of a regular season game is much greater than battling for a position in the preseason, but they are two different kinds of pressure. Once Dixon is named the starter, he won't have to worry about proving anything. He'll just have to win the damn game.

I doubt it was that funny.
As much as I like Batch, and appreciate all he does for the organization, I think he limits what the offense can do. People make fun of Dixon's arm, but it's not like Batch has a cannon. And he's not going to be evading any rushers the way Dixon will. Batch would probably make less mistakes than Dixon, but Dixon has the ability to make up for his errors.

Either way, Tomlin screwed this situation up. I held off on saying that for as long as I could, hoping he would prove doubters wrong. But what he did this offseason and preseason is mind boggling. First, he said he would have the starter picked before training camp. Second, he gave suspended Ben Roethlisberger more snaps than anyone else, even though the star won't be playing the first four games. Third, he kept playing Roethlisberger with the first team offense in the final three preseason games.

What the hell? I understand putting him in one of those games. But three? All he did was take valuable snaps away from Leftwich and Dixon.

Of course, Roethlisberger shares a lot of this blame. Aside from the obvious fact that Roethlisberger's action are responsible for the current problem, he has only made the situation worse by telling everyone who would listen that he wanted to play the preseason games. I don't care if Roethlisberger wanted to work on things, he should have understood the situation the team was in and realized it would be better for Leftwich and Dixon to take his snaps.

Tomlin is the coach, though, and should have made that call. They both really botched the whole thing.

Now for my own little conspiracy theory. Call me stupid, many people do, but I think Roethlisberger asking to play all the preseason games was his attempt to have Steelers fan forgive him quicker. Think about it. He takes training camp snaps from Leftwich and Dixon, effectively limiting their tim with the first team, then starts the games and looks great (other than not capitalizing in the red zone). Meanwhile, the other two show that they are nowhere near Roethlisberger's level, and the fans pick up on this. Now instead of clamoring for the Steelers to bench or trade Ben, the fans are yearning for him to come back and provide stability to the quarterback position.

Would it really surprise you if that was Roethlisberger's thinking, or am I just blowing smoke?

Kansas - Point of No Return


  1. Could it also be that the Steelers thought that playing Ben was essential to getting his suspension lowered. One thing that the Steelers needed to prove to get Ben's suspension dropped was that keeping him out was hurting the Steelers fans (the NFL's customer). In order to do this they would have to show that Steeler's fans want him back and have partly forgave him for his unbecoming off the field conduct. They needed to show Goodel the applause, the difference his absence would have on the team, and the effect that it would have on the fans. Perhaps, playing Roethelisberger in the preseason games was a way to clearly illustrate that suspending him was hurting the fans and thus not giving the NFL's customers the product that they deserve.

  2. Interesting thought. Not sure I buy it, but it's no less believable than my own theory.

  3. caption until the batch photo should be revised to read; "Chuck, I'm serious. She was sitting right here".

    that aint right.