There Was Never a Need for Quarterback Controversy in Pittsburgh
Duck fever has certainly been contagious in the city of Pittsburgh as of late.
Perhaps rightfully so, as undrafted rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges was thrown into the role of starting quarterback unexpectedly nearly two weeks ago. Hodges' metaphorical webbed feet hit the ground running, and hasn't looked back. After successfully traveling to the west coast and guiding the Steelers to a crucial win before their bye week, Hodges proved he was capable of managing an offense that has looked stagnant on some occasions through the season.
The cult-like obsession with Hodges, best known as "Duck", can be tracked back to training camp, where Hodges continually impressed when given the opportunity. He's also a world champion in duck calling, if you weren't made aware by those around you yet.
On the football field, Hodges got the job done when it mattered. Hodges, in his first ever NFL start, completed 15 of 20 passes for 132 yards and 1 touchdown/interception as well. Finishing with a passer rating of 87.9, Devlin completed all necessary tasks asked of him en route to victory.
"He didn't kill us" Steelers coach Mike Tomlin answered to questions about Hodges performance, following with a chuckle. "That's what you need from young quarterbacks. In general he took care of the ball. He made the plays he needed to make, but we were thoughtful about the position we put him in."
Since last Sunday, there have been a few suggestions that Hodges continue to carry out starting duties for the rest of the season, even when Rudolph is ready to return from injury.
Coach Tomlin isn't here for that, and he set the record straight on Rudolph's status upon his return.
"That guy is our quarterback when he clears the protocol, and it's as simple as that."
With official word from the organization that Rudolph has been cleared from concussion protocol, any hope of Hodges starting over Rudolph in the immediate future can now be put to rest, and rightfully so.
The Steelers have been very confident in Rudolph's abilities, from drafting him with a third-round selection two years ago to dealing their first-round selection for help on the defensive side of the football. Not to discredit what Hodges was able to accomplish, yet his mission was clear: Hold down the fort until Rudolph was ready.
In all reality, Hodges may have very well earned him a spot on Pittsburgh's roster for the next year or two, something that may have not been a reality after being cut from the team prior to the regular season. His performance was admirable, helping solidify not only the player on the field, but perhaps igniting a brand off the field as well.
Yet this is Rudolph's team, until a healthy Ben Roethlisberger says otherwise. The Steelers currently sit at 2-4 on the season and aren't willing to throw in the towel quite yet. Hodges starting the rest of the way would not only hold the Steelers offense back in terms of production/abilities, but would also take away valuable starting time from Rudolph, who is all but set to be the heir to Roethlisberger's throne.
Despite the love for the third-string quarterback, Rudolph hasn’t lost anything, and Hodges hasn’t won the job. Fighting with their backs against the wall, Pittsburgh doesn’t have room for error, or to be testing quarterbacks.
Duck was a great spark for the Steelers, but it's rabbit season in Pittsburgh until further notice.