Charlie Batch is no longer an NFL quarterback … and hasn’t been for quite some time

So. That happened.

For whatever reason — I’m sure they have them — the Pittsburgh Steelers have decided that Charlie Batch is still worthy of a spot on their 53-man roster. By doing this they acknowledge the reality that a situation may in fact come up during the season that will force him on the field. That situation was Sunday during what turned out to be a 20-14 Steelers loss in Cleveland, a game that was probably the worst three hours of football any NFL fan outside of Cleveland has ever had the displeasure of watching.

It was ugly.

Not all of it was Batch’s fault, of course. The Steelers running backs put the football on the ground an unthinkable six times (all four running backs in uniform fumbled at least once, and hell, it wouldn’t shock me if Baron Batch found a way to drop something back in Pittsburgh) and struggled to find room to run behind an offensive line that lost Willie Colon before the game and Mike Adams during the game. And that’s to say nothing of holding call after holding call after holding call that negated whatever gains the Steelers could pull out of a hat.

But that’s kind of what happens when you present a defense with no real threat of a passing game. From snap No. 1 the Browns defense loaded up on the run and completely sold out to stop it.

Football 101: Make a team one dimensional, and they’re done.

On Sunday, the Steelers were one dimensional — well, they tried to be one dimensional — from the word Go. You knew it was going to be a problem when in the first quarter the Steelers were faced with a third-and-four and instead of attempting to pass the football, handed it off to Isaac Redman. He ran for two yards and the Steelers had to do the most productive thing their offense did all day: Punt.

The past two home games (I never did a View From 522 for either game — sorry, but you didn’t miss much) with Byron Leftwich trying — and failing — to stay in one piece there was a constant scream for the Steelers to replace him with Batch.

On Sunday, that section of the fan base got its wish.

The result? Well, let’s put it this way: Had Batch dropped back on his 34 pass attempts and simply thrown the ball directly to the ground on every single one of them, he would have finished with a higher passer rating (39.5) than he did against the Browns (38.7). He threw three interceptions, struggled to hit any pass more than five or six yards down field, and displayed the type of arm strength you would expect from the oldest non-kicker in the NFL (which he is).

But this isn’t necessarily just about Batch and his poor play. He did exactly what I was afraid he would do (nothing). This is more about why the Steelers still value him as a player and why he still takes up a spot on the roster. He hasn’t been an effective NFL quarterback in years. If you’re a baseball fan you might be familiar with the concept of a replacement level player, which is basically the type of production you could expect from any random minor league call-up. Batch, at this point in his career, is well below a replacement level player.

Here are Batch’s passing numbers, including Sunday’s game, since the start of the 2007 season:

82 Completions
145 Attempts
56 Percent Completion Percentage
1,008 Yards (6.9 per attempt)
5 Touchdowns
10 Interceptions
60.8 Passer Rating

Let’s put that passer rating into some perspective. This season in the NFL the worst passer rating of any quarterback qualified for the league lead belongs to Arizona’s John Skelton at 64.4. There is only one other quarterback (Kansas City’s Matt Cassel) that has a rating worse than 70.

But let’s go one step further. Since the start of 2007 there have been 102 quarterbacks that have thrown at least 100 passes in the NFL. The only ones with a passer rating worse than 60.8 are: Caleb Hanie (41.6), Keith Null (49.9), Trent Dilfer (55.1), Josh Johnson (57.7), Charlie Frye (58.3), Jimmy Clausen (58.4), and Curtis Painter (60.6).

(I’m not going to lie: I never heard of Keith Null and had no idea what team he played for until I looked this up. He played four games for the St. Louis Rams in 2009 and lost all four, throwing three touchdowns to nine interceptions. He played his college ball at some place called West Texas A & M.)

Of the 95 quarterbacks that have thrown at least 145 passes over that stretch the only ones with a lower rating than Batch are Dilfer, Johnson, Clausen and Painter.

So why, again, is he still on the roster? And why do people still believe he can play in the NFL?

I realize that if you have to get down to your third string quarterback your team is pretty much screwed. There aren’t enough good quarterbacks in the NFL to fill all 32 STARTING spots, let alone for teams to go three deep. But the Steelers backup quarterback situation has left them in a disastrous position should something happen to Ben Roethlisberger (as it did against Kansas City).

(And if I may go off in another direction one more time: The Steelers allowed Roethlisberger to take a beating every year since 2006 and he, for the most part, was able to stay in one piece. The year they’re actually protecting him, whether it be through improved offensive line play or a change in offensive philosophy that has them throwing shorter, quick routes … or both, and he goes down for a few weeks on what appeared to be a rather routine hit. At least, not one of the biggest hits he ever received. Frustrating.)

Byron Leftwich has a huge arm but is a walking injury. And we all know this. The best thing the guy did over the past three years (a shocking — and I mean shocking — 31-yard touchdown run against the Ravens Sunday night) resulted in him injuring himself. And, perhaps to perfectly illustrate how little the Steelers trust Batch at this point, kept him in the game to play through obvious pain, unable to throw the ball down field the way he normally can. Which again brings up the question: Why is Batch still here?

I hate to talk offseason here because the Steelers are still in the playoff race and the AFC is bad enough for them to get in even if they lose two more games (yes, I think 9-7 gets in as a Wild Card — and with a healthy Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown I think they’re capable of going on a run. Maybe not to the Super Bowl, but at least doing some damage in the playoffs), but one of the top priorities this offseason has to be for the Steelers to find a competent backup quarterback, whether it be in free agency, via trade, or through the draft that is not only capable of staying relatively injury free, but that they trust enough to actually play. Because this … this was ugly.

Had it not been for the Steelers defense — which played as well as a defense can play while giving up 20 points — scoring a touchdown and doing its best to minimize the damage after the offense’s eight turnovers, as well as a pass interference call in the end zone, the Steelers very easily could have lost this game 30-0.
Or worse.

Or had they been playing a good NFL team.

This entry was posted in 2012 steelers. Bookmark the permalink.
  • David

    Yep, I just sent EB a question on why we kept two old QB backups and not at least have one young-un.

    It use to be an advantage to have them both. Now, I feel like that German guy on Raiders of the Lost Ark: “Shoot them. Shoot them both.”

  • Sarah

    Good post Adam.
    And mea culpa here – I was one of the crew hoping for Charlie last week and glad to see him start yesterday – at least for a little while.

    I honestly thought he was a better fit for this offense than Lefty. And maybe he was a few years ago. Obviously not anymore. Ugly stuff indeed.

  • Cols714

    Good point on the backup QBs. I always thought that Leftwich was a decent backup, until this year I guess. Didn’t he win a game vs the Redskins a couple of years back and look good doing it?

    Batch is done, there is no way they bring him back next year.

    I’m down about the loss, but the reality is that they are just not a healthy team at all. The list of guys who are going to cum back before the season is up is huge.
    Colon, Gilbert, DeCastro on the OL, Brown and Cotchery at WR, BIG BEN (deserves caps), Polamalu and Woodley.

    That’s a lot of talent they were missing in Cleveland, they fumbled the ball 5 times, and still only lost by 6. This does not say good things about the talent level in Cleveland.

    At the beginning of the year, there were some grumbles around here about the Steelers training staff since no one can stay healthy on this team. I’m beginning to think that those people had a point.

  • Sarah

    Yeah Cols count me among those grumblers LOL!
    It just seems to defy the odds – this unbelievable injury-prone-ness.

    So eventually I wonder about the training staff, and their schemes not just for rehab, but for strength/flexibility/injury prevention….

    MAybe just sour grapes.

    But I’d like to see injury stats on PIT vs NFL averages for say the last 5 years….

  • Cols714

    A quick note to all the whining that the team wasn’t ready to play (not here, but check out every other Steelers site), the defense killed it in this game. They were great despite being put in terrible positions by the offense which was awful.

    It wasn’t a question of motivation, it was all of the stupid mistakes by the RBs, the QB, and the WRs.

    • David

      Yep. Play of the Game was the Mendy fumble on our 1st possession when we had all the momentum at our 40 yd line.
      Score there, even a FG, makes it 10-0. Instead, they get a FG. Six point swing.
      Guess how much we lost by?

  • Cols714

    I really hope that Big Ben stays out this week. Maybe he can get some practice in, but I don’t want him to return at Baltimore with an even more injured OL in front of him.

  • Sarah

    Agree totally. They need to win the games after BAL. Rest Ben this week.

  • Sarah

    So I wrote a letter to Sports 970 host Stan Savran….

    Hi Stan -
    Count me among the throng who was hoping for Batch v the
    Ravens last week (certainly wanted to see him once Lefty was obviously
    hurt)…thought he was a better fit in the offense ….happy to see him yesterday….and
    then had my mouth shut, big-time, after watching what looked like an aging vet
    who seriously has hit the wall and can no longer play at an NFL level.
    Can’t get the ball outside or downfield effectively, and worse, seemed to have
    lost a good bit of his smarts….. Poor Charlie, even he seemed stunned by his
    own ineffectiveness after the game….so in hindsight, I understand
    Tomlin’s obvious reluctance to go to him. The guy can’t get it
    done, sadly, it seems.

    Having said that – then why the HECK is Charlie taking up a
    roster spot??? If the Steelers knew this beforehand – I’ve no idea why
    Batch is on the sidelines at all. Thoughts?

    Next – I’m with you on the general ‘coaches should not have
    to motivate players’ thing…..these guys are highly paid professionals and
    should be expected to motivate themselves and be up for games without help from
    the coaching staff. But….when a team so consistently plays “down” to their
    opponents….and so often simply seem not ready to play against inferior teams,
    whether that is poor focus/poor motivation/taking them lightly/whatever
    (especially coming off a tough loss!) …..sooner or later I wonder about Tomlin
    and the coaching staff…..do you?…

    Lastly…..the incredible, seemingly never-ending,
    logic-defying injury cycle the Steelers have been dealing with for several
    seasons now……I have played college-level sports (mostly ice hockey) , and there
    were always teams that seemed injury-prone, and other teams that seemed
    impervious, unusually healthy…..in my experience that often simply came down to
    the trainers. Sooner or later I begin to wonder if the PIT
    Training/Strength staff is lacking with the Steelers somehow….it’s not simply
    with regard to quality rehab and getting players back fast -
    it’s also largely to do with disciplined systems for weight management,
    strength, and flexibility which help to not just prevent, but minimize injuries
    when they happen. As a goalie myself, I know that
    flexibility/strength over range of motion is critical for minimizing injury.
    The Steelers seem especially afflicted in this department (and I’d love
    to see if there are available stats re PIT v the rest of the NFL when it comes
    to injury)….and while I know with a game like NFL football there “will” be
    injuries no matter what you do…..is it getting to the point that you wonder if
    the Training Staff could be doing a better job keeping players healthy?

    • Cols714

      I agree that the training staff needs to look into what they are doing. There isn’t any reason for a team to be this injury prone.

      I also agree that Batch is done and the Steelers screwed up by keeping such an obviously old player on the roster.

      As for motivation, this is a pet peeve of mine. For some reason NFL discussions always assume that the team that lost was less motivated and didn’t play with “heart”. I think this is baloney. The Steelers yesterday were not un-motivated. The defense played great. The offense did what it could do but then they fumbled a ridiculous amount of time. Which sucks. But it doesn’t mean they weren’t motivated. It means they fucked up.

      When teams lose, it’s not often that it’s because they weren’t properly motivated or didn’t have a killer instinct or some other nonsense, it’s usually because they screwed up or didn’t have the talent level to compete.

      This team has the talent level, what they don’t have is a healthy team. Give us Ben back and we win the last two games easily and no one is talking about them being unmotivated to win.

      And yes, they still should’ve won the past two games without Ben. However when a team that’s missing this many great players then makes this many mistakes, it’s very hard to win.

      • Sarah

        Hmm….all good points!

        I guess I don’t think we do not have the talent level to compete with CLE. We certainly do.

        Obviously the D was very well prepared/well motivated….stopped this game from being more of an embarrassment.

        I guess i am more questioning the handling of the O. Of course when you’re down to playing guys like Beachum, maybe all bets are off.

        I just think Tomlin’s Bench Anybody That Fumbles policy didn’t serve anyone well. Mendy seems especially mentally fragile – yesterday could not be good for him. Or any RB. But when you’re running Rainey between tackles because you want to punish Mendy/Ike/whoever, I question that tactic. Not good for anyone. Least of all Rainey!!

        But of course you’re spot on that with Ben they likely win both of these games. And unlike the Browns, the Steelers are capable of improving dramatically in a week, just through the return of their starters.

        HAving said that – hope they sit Ben next week. Focus on the last 4 games.

        Bring on Hoyer!!!

        Oy. DId I just say that???

        • Cols714

          I said I thought they have the talent level to beat Cleveland even with Ben and Brown, etc. They just decided to turn the ball over instead.

          I also agree that the Tomlin decision to bench the RBs after each fumble didn’t seem to work at all.

          The thing I don’t agree with you is that I don’t believe motivation was a factor for them losing.

        • David

          And let’s hope they’re not bringingin DeCastro too quickly as well

    • Rob D

      Great letter,Sarah. It takes a hockey goalie to write something that smart. In Canada, you might not have to pay taxes…I’ll check with the Finance Minister….wink

  • Cols714

    In good news, Timmons was again a beast yesterday and Jason Worilds played great as well. If that’s not enough to get Ted in here, I don’t know what is.

  • Eric

    FootballOutsiders tracks injuries in their book(s). I seem to remember several years ago they had the Steelers and Cowboys trainers ranked #1-2. They also noted that injuries tend to be cyclical and that they expected both teams to regress. If I have time, I’ll try to find it.

  • Justis

    But the thing is favre was 40 and he still had a great arm this guy just never had a premier arm he’s fucking clearly lost it he’s age fast as hell cuz he sure as hell dont look 37 to me more like 47 and his arm strength showed that i think vinny testaverde could throw farther at 56 lmfao

  • Canadian Steeler

    Sunday’s game was pretty terrible without a doubt, but I have a problem with people attacking the coaching. There wasn’t a whole lot they could do in my opinion.

    Haley set up the offense to minimize Batch’s impact, probably because he knew that Batch was done. What’s he supposed to do when every single running back gives the ball away?

    You can criticize Tomlin for benching the backs for fumbling, but I could certainly see the rationale at the time. He knew that turnovers were the only thing that would keep us from winning, and it did seem like we had 3 solid, fairly interchangeable, backs going into Cleveland. Although they’ve all had good games, none of them had done anything to distinguish themselves from the pack. When Tomlin’s making the decision to take Mendenhall out of the game for fumbling, he’s doing it with the notion that he still has Redman, Dwyer and Rainey to go to. There’s no way you can take into account the possibility of all four of them fumbling, because the chances of it happening are so small to begin with. The interchangeability of the 3 is a big deal here too – you don’t bench Ben, AB, Wallace or Heath for a fumble because the player replacing him is too big of a drop-off.

    On the positive side, LeBeau coached yet another great game. The defense is really coming into form, and Worilds tormented Mitchell Schwartz when Woodley went out.

    Based on the play of the defense (and the offense with Ben in), would you take the risk of Ben healing fully in let’s say 2-3 weeks, knowing that if we made the playoffs (no guarantee at that point), we’d be getting the best Ben possible, or take a semi-healthy Ben back this week at Baltimore, knowing that he won’t be as effective in the playoffs? Pretty much, how much longer can Ben stay out before the playoffs are out of reach?

    • Cols714

      This seems like a pretty sane analysis. I think I’d rather Ben sit out this week if it’s iffy. I don’t see much good in him going into Baltimore at risk to be injured again.

  • Sarah
  • Eric
  • Eric
  • Cols714

    Sounds like Dwyer will start this week with Mendenhall moving to 3rd on the depth chart. It’s also interesting that Sanders is now listed as the co-starter at the WR spot opposite of Brown.

    It doesn’t seem as though Wallace or Mendenhall are going to be back next year. If they are, it’s going to be on the Steelers’ terms. The play of Wallace, after having been one of the very best WR in football the last couple of years, has been really disappointing.

    I wonder if it’s the mental part of knowing how much money you turned down. I really don’t want him to leave, I think the Steelers will regret it if he leaves.

    • Sarah

      Yeah. Maybe Tomlin was right with his One Trick Pony tag…..very talented but narrow, not deep.

      At least 3 different talk show hosts are now saying BOTH Mendy and MW are “playing their way out of Pgh”…..

      I do think the Steelers will regret it if MW leaves….having said that – A Brown was voted Team MVP for a reason. I think he is.

      And without AB, MW has clearly been unable to step it up and make a difference – he’s been invisible IMO. You can say that’s because of double coverage and maybe it is. But if so….then he ain’t at the Larry FItz level he would have us believe…..and we cant pay him as such….

      • Cols714

        This year he’s been invisible. In past years he’s been great. So I don’t think he’s a one-trick pony at all. I think for whatever reason he is playing like crap right now.

        Please with the Fitzgerald reference. No one knows if that statement was actually from Wallace.

        I want to be clear. Wallace was a great receiver for the Steelers every year except for some reason this year. I don’t think he’s a one trick pony, I don’t think he has bad hands, I don’t think he runs poor routes, etc. He’s done great things here, shown he can run routes, catch the ball, and be a #1 receiver. Just for some reason he isn’t playing well this year.

        • Sarah

          Hmm….I agree he’s been invisible this year.
          But last year?
          I think he was pretty invisible the last few games last year also. I recall folks here saying as such….poor focus….poor effort, whatever.

          Anyway – don’t think it is restricted to this year….

          • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

            I’m starting to think that Tomlin is the one-trick pony.

  • Cols714

    So today the Steelers’ were playing around with their OL and had Pouncey at LG, Legursky at C, and DeCastro at RG.

    My question is why don’t they do this if Colon is out? Legursky always looks decent at center but looks horrible at guard. So wouldn’t it make sense to move Pouncey to LG when Colon is out?

  • David

    Ben’s officially out. Beachum starts at RT. Woodley’s out. Batch is starting. We’re playing at Baltimore.

    If we win, this will be the upset of the year.

    Dear Santa…All I want is a win at BAL. If you think I’ve been a great boy this year, please throw in a win at DAL.

    • Rob D

      Already have this chalked up as a loss. Just being realistic. Batch just can’t do it anymore. I will be surprised if he makes it throught this one intact especially with the green Beachum in there and Pouncey playing an unfamiliar position…geebus, can it get any worse? Let’s hope they don’t fumble 12 times I guess…lol

      Then you start praying Ben can be back in 2 weeks and we win out. Tall order even with Ben back..you have to factor in rust. WITH Ben, I think we would have won both games this year against BAltimore. But in a league where the QB is so vital and central to your chances, playing without him just uncovers all the other weak areas and injuries that Ben can make not seem all that important.

      Those early losses to Tenn and Oakland have left them with very little wiggle room. It’s a shame but every game counts in the NFL and that’s what makes it such an interesting league to follow….also very painful …

      • EasyLikeSundayMorning

        If Troy plays well, I predict we win. Baltimore’s O scored 3 points against us two weeks ago, and their D is not what it was. We can’t possibly turn the ball over 8 times again.

        • David

          But we play at their house this time. Ole Unibrow is a totally different QB at home.

          • Sarah

            Well anytime a team seems to plan down/up to the competition I look at the coaching staff. Having said that, LeB has had the D ready to play last few games. (Unlike the first few!!)
            Chris Hoke on radio talk show had a good comment, basically the team has never had both O and D playing well at the same time. Out of synch all year. If the D had been just avg we likely beat both OAK and TE. If the O had been above pitiful we beat CLE and BAL.
            I thought Chris captured the season in a nutshell.
            What’s the line? BAL -3 1/2?