Steelers Put Byron Leftwich on IR – Did They Err?

In addition to cutting a score of so of players Friday, the Steelers made an additional roster move by placing back up quarterback Byron Leftwich on the injured reserve.

Placing Leftwich on IR comes as no surprise in the wake the broken arm he suffered against Atlanta.

But did the Steelers make the right move?

Leftwich is now lost for the year.

The motive fueling the Steelers move is obvious. Mike Tomlin likes Bryon Leftwich, and Bryon Leftwich likes playing in Pittsburgh. He liked it so much that he considered sacrificing a chance to start by staying in Pittsburgh after Super Bowl XLIII.

That start only lasted a few games, and Tampa traded Leftwich back to the Steelers for a song prior to the 2010 NFL draft.

Tomlin sees Leftwich as his long-term back up, much the way that Bill Cowher viewed Mike Tomzack in the 1990’s.

Steelers Nation has a lot to like in Bryon Leftwich. He’s former franchise quarterback whose settled in comfortably into his role as second in command.

While thoroughly immobile, Leftwich has an absolute cannon for an arm. Bruce Arians always need worry that Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, and Dennis Dixon will under throw Mike Wallace on deep route.

Such worries will never exist with Leftwich.

Nice as that is, the stark reality of the situation is that the broken arm reunited Leftwich with an old friend – the injured reserve list.

Credit goes to Nice Pick Cowher for pointing this out a few days ago.

Since joining the league in Leftwich:

  • Missed 5 games in 2005 with a broken ankle
  • Started six games then went on IR with a broken ankle in 2006
  • Injuries kept him inactive for 13 games for Atlanta in 2007
  • Finished 2009 on IR after starting 3 games

Unlike Nice Pick Cowher, Steel Curtain Rising has a favorable impression of Leftwich’s skills, although one must concede that Leftwich would get killed behind this line.

Before Leftwich got hurt in the 2010 preseason finale, Charlie Batch was the odd man out. No one in the Steelers organization ever questioned Batch’s skills, leadership, or commitment to the team.

Tomlin’s preference for Batch over Byron had everything to do with the former’s fragility.

The Steelers of course take no risk in putting Leftwich on IR other than being on the hook for his 2011 salary.

But one has to wonder if Tomin errs by not giving Leftwich’s durability deeper consideration before annointing him as the Steelers long term back up quarterback.

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2 thoughts on “Steelers Put Byron Leftwich on IR – Did They Err?

  1. This article has very little content that relates to the title. You don’t even discuss why he should not have been put on IR, or what the alternatives might be. You don’t explain, at all, why this decision could be an err.

    Not really hard hitting analysis.

  2. Anonymous,

    Thanks for your comment.

    You’re right, I could have spelled out the alternative – cutting Leftwich or leaving him on the roster.

    But, after recognizing “Nice Pick Cowher’s” leg work in researching Leftwich’s injury history, the article does call into question Leftwich’s long-term viability as a back up.

    In that light, perhaps a more appropriate title would have been, “Is Tomlin Erring in Banking on Leftwich as a back up” but that question is the focus of the post, which I think is clear.

    Once again, thanks for your input.

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