Yes, Ben Roethlisberger is the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He will remain the starting quarterback all season, barring injury. Although, the rest of the QB depth chart is up in the air.
Along with many others, I do not expect the Steelers to carry four quarterbacks on their opening day roster. That leaves two open roster spots for the likes of Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph, and Josh Dobbs.
I would expect that Mason Rudolph already has a spot locked up. This is not due to his preseason play, but because of his future value. As a third-round pick, Rudolph figures to be the Steelers quarterback of the future. The willingness to use a high draft pick on him shows their level of investment in him. Releasing him before the season would be absolutely absurd.
That means the quarterback competition falls to Dobbs versus Jones. Heading into the season I felt like this was going to be one of the main positional battles. However, due to recent coaching decisions, the state of the quarterback situation is confusing.
Coach Mike Tomlin announced this week that Dobbs and Rudolph will be the only quarterbacks to see action against the Green Bay Packers. This news leads me to three different possible conclusions.
1. Four QBs?
The first possible conclusion is that the team is open to keeping four quarterbacks for their opening day roster. While I do not believe this is likely, giving Dobbs extended playing time suggests he might be able to play himself onto the roster. Sitting Landry Jones, seemingly not due to an injury or as a punishment, tells me that his play in past years has ensured him a roster spot.
In my opinion, this is not the most likely result. Wasting a roster spot on a fourth quarterback is not traditionally a sound management decision. Based on that, I would assume that one of the next two conclusions are far more likely.
2. Landry Jones Who?
Landry Jones looked like a solid backup quarterback in the first preseason action of 2018. Finishing a perfect four for four in three series, proved why he will make a NFL roster. Could the Steelers be looking to move Jones before the start of the regular season? Giving Dobbs extra reps may mean they are hoping to see improvement. Jones will likely continue to be a career backup in Pittsburgh, while Dobbs and Rudolph are cheaper options at the position.
The problem with this theory is that sitting Landry would not allow much exposure to create trade value. If they were looking to move Jones, more playing time, assuming he plays well, would drive up his value with other teams.
3. Josh Dobbs, an Asset?
My final possible conclusion, to me, is the most likely. Leaving the quarterback duties to Dobbs and Rudolph suggests that Landry is on the roster and there is no reason for him to play. Rudolph needs reps to continue his development. So continued playing time (probably the second half of preseason games) will help Rudolph in the long run. Playing Dobbs might be the way Pittsburgh is attempting to showcase his skills. Releasing Dobbs would mean nothing for the team, while his play could increase his potential value. This all might encourage another team to pull the trigger on a trade. As injuries begin to stack up for other clubs, Dobbs may be a trade piece.
In the end, no one is sure what is going to happen in this quarterback situation. Mike Tomlin has yet to say Landry Jones is a roster lock. At the moment Big Ben is theoretically the only quarterback ensured to make the final 53. It is also possible that this is an irregular week and that Landry gets a large snap count in week three or four during the preseason.
Maybe this is all to keep the story away from running back Le’Veon Bell, who is yet to sign his franchise tender. It also could be to keep attention away from a growing defense, which was a liability last season.
Scott Duda is a featured blogger for SportsTalkLive. Find more from SportsTalkLive on Twitter and Facebook.