one of our first posts ever, is that you don't actually need Ron Cook to write a Ron Cook column. So, because I have nothing better to do for the next 25 minutes, here is fake Ron Cook's newest column addressing the Steelers' budding QB controversy after the jump.
Decisions, Decisions. By Fake Ron Cook
Dennis Dixon or Byron Leftwich?
Would you want to be Mike Tomlin right now?
That's the decision he is facing for at least the first 4 games of the upcoming season due to Ben Roethlisberger's suspension. Well, actually it could be 6 games if Roger Goody Goodell doesn't reduce the suspension.
It's a tough decision, no doubt. But you already know that. So, how should Tomlin decide? How should he determine who QB's this storied franchise for a quarter of the coming season, if not more?
Let's look at each candidate.
Dixon. He's an electrifying player to watch. He certainly was at Oregon State where he was the front-runner for the Heisman trophy before suffering a knee injury. Sure, he didn't win it, but that kind of pedigree has to count for something, right? I mean, it's the Heisman.
Dixon started one game last season, a loss to the Ravens in Baltimore. He wasn't bad, but he wasn't good. It was a tough place to play, certainly. Ray Lewis. You remember him, right? He was on the defense. So was Ed Reed. We think we're blessed with Troy Polamalu, but Reed may be in a class by himself.
What did we learn about Dixon from that game? Well, a few things if you ask me. He's confident. He's agile. He's not just quick and he's not just fast. He's quick and fast. Dangerous combination. His accuracy does leave something to be desired, but like they say, no one is perfect.
What can you really say about him? Reliable. Experienced. Makes passes.
He's had an unremarkable career as an NFL QB. Serviceable, yes, but also unremarkable. His biggest moment, of course, was when his offense linemen at Marshall had to carry him to the line of scrimmage because he was so banged up but refused to come out of the game. He's a warrior. He's tough. But, as we hear all the time, what have you done for me lately? (Speaking of warriors, maybe someone should get Leftwich a pair of skates. I hear hockey season is starting soon. Ray Shero, are you listening?)
So, that's the choice facing Tomlin. Dixon or Leftwich. No one's perfect versus what have you done for me lately.
Tell me you know what to do.
Actually, you can't. Because you don't know.
This is a hard decision for Tomlin. I don't envy him for having to make it. But, it is part of the job description. That's why he gets paid millions of dollars. That's why he signed an extension. For these decisions. These tough calls that could be the difference between a return to glory and a second consecutive post-season in front of the TV set.
If you want my opinion, here's what I would do. I'd play Leftwich in Game 1. He's the veteran. He has moxie and toughness and grit. He is the known entity.
But it isn't as simple as that. Here's the wrinkle. I'd give Leftwich a short leash. If he isn't getting it done, I wouldn't hesitate to bring in Dixon. You know, change it up. Keep the defense on their toes, as the saying goes. Be unpredictable. Do the things that lead to winning.
Let's say Leftwich is performing adequately. Well, I'd still bring in Dixon occasionally. Why, you ask? Well, I'll throw a name out to you that you haven't thought of in a while, or maybe just haven't wanted to.
Yes, I said it.
You remember him, of course. He was the Steelers' secret weapon in the late 90's. Dixon has a similar skill set. He can keep defenses honest. Keep them guessing.
And, hopefully, keep the Steelers winning.
When Roethlisberger comes back, he is the Steelers' QB. Of that, there is no debate. He's a winner. He's proven it. But if the Steelers can develop Dixon a little bit during Roethlisberger's absence, doesn't that make the team even more dangerous when Ben gets back?
You can't tell me that the thought of running the wildcat with Dixon doesn't excite you. It excites me. It hasn't been the Steelers' way under the Arians-Roethlisberger regime, but this has been an offseason of humbling for both of them. Arians humbled by the Rooney's re-commitment to the running game, and Roethlisberger humbled by an array of off-field issues. So, why not try something new?
Mike Tomlin has a decision to make. He must make it. Do I think he'll make the right decision? I do. But, even if he doesn't make the right decisions between Dixon and Leftwich, at least he has the saving grace of Roethlisberger returning behind center. That's a decision that even the Pirates couldn't screw up.
Dixon or Leftwich?
No one's perfect versus what have you done for me lately.
Mike Tomlin, boy do you have a decision to make.
No one said it would be easy, right?
This is a chance for the Steelers to put opposing defenses on the defensive, if you will.
It's not an enviable position to be in.
But it's not a bad one, either.
Nope. Definitely not a bad one.
Still, though, it's not good.
Ball is in your court, coach...