In the wake of Devlin Hodges’ okay performance against the Browns, some pundits and fans clamored for offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner to unleash the Duck and let him wing it all over the field.
And that is exactly how you lose football games.
I get the urge to see what Hodges can do when given a full playbook and a green light to throw the ball downfield, but somebody has to be the realistic one, and it appears Fichtner is.
Hodges is not ready to throw the ball all over the field.
Face it, he was bailed out by some great catches, underthrew many of his deeper passes, and was clearly on a different page than Diontae Johnson on his one pick in the Cleveland game.
I’m not sure opening things up with a completely unproven rookie is the answer. Teams will begin to prepare differently for Hodges, and it will be the Steelers who need to adjust.
The Steelers are a defense first team. The Cleveland game changed momentum when the defense began stopping the Browns. The Steelers took calculated shots down the field only after the running game began to move the ball. If Cleveland had an NFL caliber secondary, the outcomes of some of Hodges passes might have been different.
Mike Tomlin said it perfectly after Hodges stepped in for Mason Rudolph and beat the Cincinnati Bengals, “He didn’t kill us.”
That’s good – don’t let him. Opening up the offense and having a quarterback with 61 career attempts sling the ball 35 or 40 times is asking for mistakes, turnovers and disaster.
The Steelers are actually in a position to be a wild card. They can definitely beat Arizona. They can definitely beat the New York Jets. That leaves two very tough opponents – Buffalo and Baltimore – teams that will devour the Steelers if they turn it over and play carelessly.
Hodges has shown that he does not squint against the bright lights. He also has helped to save the Steelers’ season. That does not mean the Steelers should push all-in on a passing attack that features a quarterback who has not played against a good defense, has panicked a few times in the pocket and taken sacks, almost fumbled in a very crucial spot against Cleveland, and made a terrible clock management decision late in the Browns game.
Just let the Duck stay grounded. Let him keep his feet paddling and moving downstream. Let him learn from mistakes without putting him in position to make game-killing ones.
Just let the Duck stay grounded – it is the Steelers’ best chance to make the playoffs.
- I keep hearing Pat Narduzzi shouldn’t be fired at Pitt. I don’t disagree. I don’t think it matters. Narduzzi cannot recruit the players needed to make Pitt a real contender for anything. If he is to be taken at his word, then Pitt, “is a good football team,” so why don’t they play good? I know it’s well, but, well, when it comes to Pitt football, it never ends well.
- Pitt basketball, on the other hand, is growing on the job and looking better and better. Jeff Capel stressed the importance of the mental growth of his team after they won the Fort Meyers Tournament last week with impressive wins over Kansas State and Northwestern. This has been a fun team to watch, but a real test looms this Friday at top-ranked Louisville. I don’t expect Pitt to win, but I would love to see them give Louisville a little scare.
- The Penguins have a goaltending problem. Matt Murray just has not been good enough. Tristan Jarry, on the other hand, has been mostly solid. Presents a dilemma, of sorts, one that will be interesting to watch. Mike Sullivan’s loyalty to Murray, or his loyalty to winning hockey games.
- The Pirates hired a manager. On the cheap. Like everything they do. Marte wants out. That’s hard to believe.
That was so 2006 of me.