Dennis Dixon, Everybody! (Unless It’s Charlie Batch)

Well, it took nearly a month but injuries finally made their way through the Steelers locker room. Byron Leftwich, apparently Mike Tomlin’s guy since returning to Pittsburgh this offseason, hobbled off the field Thursday after hurting his left knee in the second quarter against the Panthers.

You might wonder why the presumed regular-season starting quarterback was still under center in the second quarter of a Week 4 preseason game. I wonder the same thing. Also curious: why Ben Roethlisberger started the game since it’s likely he’ll be on couch duty until October (unless…).

Whatever, Byron’s now injured (no word on the extent, although he reportedly went to a local Pittsburgh hospital for tests hmm, it appears Leftwich tore his MCL), which means that, barring a remarkable recovery, it’s Dennis Dixon’s job. Yay, right? Um, maybe not.

(Quick aside: if it turns out that Byron will be on the shelf for some time, you know it’s legit. This is the same dude who played on a broken shin in college, and was hit not once but TWICE by a car while growing up in DC.)

After Chaz Batch’s performance in Denver last week, coupled with forgettable efforts from Dixon (two picks) and Leftwich (no completions), you could make a good argument that he deserves the starting gig. I’ll be honest: at this point I don’t know what to think. Batch looked fantastic against a bunch of Broncos scrubs, but that’s the same trap we fell into with Dixon the first two weeks. That said, Dixon’s unproven; we know what Batch can do when the games really matter because, you know, he’s done it.

Then again, this is Chaz we’re talking about. I made the joke on Twitter earlier, but it’s worth repeating here: if Byron misses time, Batch and Dixon will both play. Not necessarily because the Steelers will still use Dixon as a change of pace (and they might), but because Mr. Glass goes as Chaz Batch for Halloween.

I think this offensive line will be better than the ’08 and ’09 versions, but unless they can guarantee that Batch will go untouched on every dropback, then he won’t last the month. (And he still might not. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chaz, even with no pressure, literally threw his arm off Dave Dravecky-style)

So that means that Dixon’s the man. I’m much less confident about that prospect now than I was in July. But then I remember that the difference between Byron and Dennis is negligible; they both have shortcomings — one is glacially slow, the other is raw and inexperienced — it’s just a matter of how the coaches manage those shortcomings.

On the one hand, there’s not much you can do about Leftwich’s long delivery and plodding style. What you see is what you get. There’s no upside with Byron, but there aren’t many surprises, either. On the other hand, Dixon is a playmaker. He also has the potential to make plays for the other team. Which means that Wallace, Hines, Heath and Rashard are going to have to do the heavy lifting, and the defense will need to play like it’s 2008.

Either way, I asked for Dennis, and now it looks like I’ll get him. One way or the other.

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  • RoB D

    I hope they can run the ball as well as they showed tonight. IF they can, I go with Batch. Dixon will throw a lot of INT’s due to his inexperience alone.This really sucks though. I am wondering if they CAN go even .500 given this circumstances over the 4 games without BB.

    Thanks preseason..thanks for everything.

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    I’m sure you all know by now, but reports are that Byron tore his MCL.

  • RoB D

    Dwyer ran great tonight. He’s got to be back in the conversation.Redman is in. All he does is get tough yards. I would say bye to Frank Summers as Redman gave play FB if needed.

    My man Butler laid down some nice hits tonight. He looks the part so ffar and he’s always around the ball IMO.

    Anyway..trying to see the bright side after the starting QB goes out.

  • Will

    If it were up to me, I’d use Batch. He looks to be in great shape, and unlike Dixon, is proven against first-team talent.

  • Gretz

    So Lefty is done? Crud.

  • IsraelP

    Tunch keeps caing Butler “Crezdon the Great.”

  • stillersfan

    why on earth was our starting quarterback even out behind a bunch of non-starting linemen? what did they expect?

  • Anonymous

    The link went to Florio. Evidently he’s pissed at Mike Wise. Florio thought he’d cornered the market for made-up bs.

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    stillersfan,

    Fantastic question. I’m sure the idea made sense to Tomlin right until the moment Jonathan Scott accidentally leg-whipped Byron. I have no idea why Ben played, either.

  • Laura

    I had read/heard somewhere that BB was playing because they wanted to get him some time with the hurry up offense since it has changed since last season(?). I figured they wanted to play Leftwich because they hadn’t really decided who would start while BB is out. I hate to admit this, but i fell asleep waiting for the game to start… pathetic i know… so i missed the whole thing. :(

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    Laura,

    I think I heard that too about the hurry-up. It’s just puzzling given that Ben’s on couch duty for September and Byron had so few snaps with the first-teamers in Denver. That said, I woulda been fine with having Randle El take all the snaps last night and giving Dwyer 80 carries.

  • countertorque

    Completely understandable for PS game #4. On the plus side, since we have no starting QB, there’s extra excitement to make sure you can stay awake for week 1.

  • JCRODRIGUEZ

    I don’t know…I am not that much concerned with the idea of Dixxon taking the staring job…let’s remember that he does have a great talent, and if you surround him with a solid game plan and an inspired “D”, well, we can survive 4 games…there is a depth chart for a reason, to throw in Batch just for desperation is a recipe for disaster…the coaches must trust what they saw all summer long…Go Dennis!, rock ‘em, baby!!!…

  • Vicinboston

    a fu@@ing Dave Dravecky joke!!!!!!!!!!
    You S@@k !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Joe

    Dixon or Batch, defense needs to step up; REMEMBER WHEN TERRY BRADSHAW GOT HURT.

    With backup Mike Kruczek at the helm, the offense began to fire and the Steelers defense came to life and began to crush their opponents.

    After a 23-6 win against the Bengals, the Steelers posted only their second back to back shutouts in team history against the Giants and the Chargers before completing their first hat trick of shutouts against the Chiefs.

    With those 27-0, 23-0 and 45-0 victories, the Steelers’ defense were creating an impact that would resonate forever. The remaining five games saw victories of 14-3 against Miami, 32-16 against Houston, 7-3 against the Bengals, 42-0 against the Buccaneers (when Bradshaw returned) with the season finishing with another shutout of 21-0 against Houston.

    The team flicked a switch over the final nine weeks of the (then 14-game) season. The Steelers pitched five shutouts and allowed an amazing total of just 28 points (3.1 PPG) in those final nine games. It was the greatest stretch of defensive dominance in the history of the
    NFL.