For years, the Browns were the football team that was rolling out three starting quarterbacks per season and would be getting teed off by the Pittsburgh Steelers towards the end of the regular season.
Now as head towards the highly anticipated rematch between the 5-6 Browns and the 6-5 Steelers, it would appear that the roles have reversed at the quarterback position as Pittsburgh is going with Devlin Hodges once again as the starting quarterback.
Mason Rudolph, who has started eight games this season for the Steelers was benched during Sunday’s 16-10 win for Pittsburgh over the Cincinnati Bengals for Hodges who rallied the team back to the victory.
This will be Hodges’ second career start in his rookie season. He started in Week 6 when the Steelers defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 24-17.
In that start, Hodges completed 15 of his 20 attempts for 132 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
In that start, it seemed like Pittsburgh tried to keep things simple and gave him a lot of quick reads and if they weren’t open he dumped it off to either James Conner or Benny Snell. They were targeted eight times and completed them all for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Against Cincinnati in relief, Hodges went 5 of 11 for 118 yards and a touchdown which was a 79-yard catch and run by James Washington. It was a solid throw that went about 30 yards down the field and Washington did the rest of the work to get the touchdown.
Based on his college film from his days at Samford, Hodges has a solid arm and can make throws down the field accurately. He also has shown the ability to extend plays with his legs which is a plus if you’re a quarterback in today’s NFL.
Not saying he’s the potential long-term answer once Roethlisberger decides to retire but if Browns fans are expecting him to be someone like a Thad Lewis or Bruce Gradkowski that Cleveland had to tread out during some dark days in franchise history, I wouldn’t be so quick to say that.
Hodges lit a spark on offense last week and it’s obvious that the Steelers want to see more of what he can potentially bring.
While he won’t have a strong running game to lean on with James Conner likely out once again this week, he has some solid NFL receivers in James Washington, Diontae Johnson and maybe JuJu Smith-Schuster if he’s cleared from concussion protocol. Also helps to have a strong offensive line minus Maurkice Pouncey up front to block for him.
The Browns defense will have to bring the pressure and force Hodges to make some uncomfortable throws much like they did towards Rudolph two weeks ago. If they can force some turnovers, it’ll be another long day for Pittsburgh offensively and give the Browns a solid chance to sweep for the first time in a long time.