Fresh off another Super Bowl appearance and with the majority of a veteran roster likely to return, most people would expect Pittsburgh Steelers fans to look at the 2011 season with high hopes. Several reports over the weekend may lead Steeler fans to lose this sense of optimism very quickly though, as their star-crossed quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, may need surgery to fix the broken foot that plagued him through last year’s playoff run.
Although the Steelers were able to overcome Roethlisberger’s 4 game suspension last year and still make it to the franchise’s 8th Super Bowl, 2011 promises to be even more challenging. With an early season schedule that includes road games against the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans, and the Indianapolis Colts as well as home games against the defending NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks, missing Big Ben from the line-up could cost the Steelers a shot to defend their AFC crown.
Additionally, Steeler fans will not only have to worry about palying without Roethlisberger but also about how sharp he will be coming off his surgery. In 2010, Roethlisberger was able to work with noted quarterback guru, George Whitfield Jr., while waiting to return from suspension. If he does indeed have foot surgery, Roethlisberger will be not be able to prepare in the same type of manner for 2011. With all the question marks existing around their 2011 signal caller, the Steelers cannot simply stand pat with the shaky Byron Leftwich, the inexperienced Dennis Dixon coming off a major knee injury, and the aging Charlie Batch as their only options at quarterback. With the length of time that Roethlisberger will be out unknown and with the window of opportunity closing on the aging roster (Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, James Harrison, Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, Ryan Clark, and Larry Foote are all over 30), the Steelers have to pursue a more reliable option. Here are the 3 best veteran quarterback options to fill the Steelers need:
Kerry Collins has made it clear, he wants a chance to play
Kerry Collins– The 38 year-old Collins brings incredible experience to the veteran Steelers team. He has played in 2 Pro Bowls, one Super Bowl, and has thrown for more than 40,000 yards in his career. Although he does not share Roethlisberger’s elusiveness in the pocket, Collins still has the arm strength to throw the ball deep to emerging threats Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown as well as the guile to include veterans Hines Ward and Heath Miller in the passing attack. Collins yearns to be a starting quarterback, an opportunity he will not get with first round pick Jake Locker now in Tennessee, and the Steelers could offer him the chance to start while Big Ben recovers. When you also factor in the great chance to finally get a Super Bowl ring in Pittsburgh, why would Collins not want to to head the Pittsburgh?
Vince Young– Although his time in Tennesee ended in an ugly manner, Vince Young proved over his first 5 seasons that he knows how to win football games. His numbers are not outstanding, but his record of 30-17 as a starting quarterback cannot be ignored. Much like Roethlisberger, Young stands strong in the pocket, uses his feet very effectively, and, at 6’5″ 230 pounds, is a load for defenders to bring down. With the lockout preventing player movement and hurting Young’s chances to pursue a full-time starting role, VY’s best option for 2011 is to pursue a one year contract. He needs to prove in 2011 that he can still be a solid NFL starter and then again test free agency during the 2012 offseason. Signing with the Steelers would give Vince Young this chance, and his presence would ease the fears throughout Steeler Nation.
Imagine a Super Bowl rematch where Brett Favre would be waving a terrible towel on the sidelines
Brett Favre – He just never seems to fade into the sunset. Although he recently said he is finished playing (again), he also added that he can “throw the ball as well as ever”. Although we learned in 2010 that Favre’s body is not able to take the pounding of a full NFL season anymore, would an opportunity to start 4-6 games on a Super Bowl-caliber team entice Brett to once again avoid retirement? With the Steelers stout defense and capable running game, Favre would not need to play at an MVP level to win games. Although the Steelers cannot offer him anywhere near the money he made last season with the Vikings, Favre should still listen to their pitch. There is no doubt that Brett Favre wanted to leave the NFL on better terms than he did in 2010, and succeeding with the Steelers in 2011 could provide a storybook ending to his illustrious career.