Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stick with the man

Ed Bouchette argues that the idea of benching Ben for Batch is crazy talk:

This is the franchise quarterback the Steelers have been awaiting for a generation. He got off to the best two-year start of any quarterback in history, both in his own success and his team's. If you go by passer ratings, his first two seasons are the top two in Steelers history. You don't throw that away because of a three-game losing streak in which Roethlisberger did not play well.

... [Rowdy] Bouchette is right on the main point, but this argument from stats is bogus. Ben had a killer passer rating his first two seasons not because he was Dan Marino or John Elway, but because the Steelers installed a very conservative offense for him to manage. In his first season, he was only looking at one half of the field on all the passing plays. The entire team and coaching staff conspired to protect him and pad up those stats. He did not win those games so much as he managed not to lose them.

So to argue that Ben deserves to start because of the stats he accumulated on those teams with those offensive strategies is not unlike arguing that a six-year-old should start in the Tour de France because he was the greatest biker ever on training wheels.

Ben is and has looked like a third-year quarterback. He has struggled more this year than the previous two because his supporting cast has not played as well as they did when they regarded him a child who needed every advantage they could squeeze from the playbook.

When the Steelers go back to seeing Ben for what he is, then perhaps they can go back to having the success they had with him.

Charlie Batch is no long-term option. Like Tommy Maddox or Mike Tomczak, Batch is the kind of player who can put in a fantastic emergency start here or there. Unlike Ben, he is not a player capable of growing into a Dan Marino or a John Elway.

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