Tim Benz: ‘Duck Dynasty’ is a great story, but Steelers’ 3rd QB isn’t great concern | TribLIVE.com
Tim Benz, Columnist

Tim Benz: ‘Duck Dynasty’ is a great story, but Steelers’ 3rd QB isn’t great concern

Tim Benz
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges drops back to pass in the second half during a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field on August 9, 2019.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges celebrates with wide receiver James Washington after throwing him a touchdown pass in the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 17-7.

My email inbox. Phone calls on TV and radio. Conversations with friends and family. The contractors at my house.

Apparently, the two most important, crucial, pressing questions within Steeler Nation are:

1. How can the Steelers keep fourth-string quarterback Devlin “Duck Dynasty” Hodges?

2. Will he get to four Super Bowls here, like Terry Bradshaw? Or only three like Ben Roethlisberger?

Heck, don’t set the bar so low. Let’s assume “Duck” will win six like Tom Brady.

Everyone loves Duck! To the point that it is making me daffy.

“It’s good to get the fans on my side,” Hodges said Wednesday. “Hopefully the coaches are saying the same thing the fans are.”

Don’t get me wrong. Hodges has been impressive in practices and preseason games. He’s mobile, fearless, creative, and slings the ball from all angles. That’s led to 10-of-18 passing for 117 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

“You refer to him as a ‘fourth arm,’” head coach Mike Tomlin said of Hodges while the team was still at Saint Vincent College for training camp. “But every man here is a man who has a legitimate opportunity.

“We’re not taking his presence for granted. Neither is he.”

Duck has credentials. At Samford, he was the 2018 NCAA Division I leader in passing yards per game (389.4) and the Walter Payton Award winner as the top offensive player in D-I FCS.

However, at “just” 6-foot-1, Hodges went undrafted.

“When people ask me about my height, I tell them I’m taller than the first overall pick this year,” Hodges said referring to 5-foot-10 Kyler Murray of Arizona. “So I don’t know how anyone can say it’s about my height. I don’t know what it was. I guess you are asking the wrong person because in my mind I think I was someone who should’ve been drafted.”

Trust me. If anyone is predisposed to root for the short guy, it’s yours truly. And if Hodges makes the roster, it’ll be a great story.

But, my God, the fretting over the Steelers potentially cutting this kid is absurd. Would we even notice if he didn’t have such a fun nickname? Who knew winning a duck-calling contest in Alabama could generate such fame?

First of all, wasn’t most of the fan base lauding the team for cutting Landry Jones in favor of Josh Dobbs last year? Did Dobbs somehow get worse with more practice and more experience from a year ago? I don’t think so.

Dobbs’ throwing has been off-target at times in the preseason. Let’s remember, though, in 2018 he was playing against the same bottom-of-the-roster guys in the preseason that Hodges is lighting up in 2019. This summer, Dobbs has seen some better opposition.

Here’s an email I received from a guy named Randy.

Randy, for the most part, encapsulates almost every observation I’ve received from Steelers fans since the second preseason game against Kansas City.

If he keeps playing like this, the real answer is to make him the third QB and trade or cut (Josh) Dobbs.

Dobbs gets kudos for his running, but the fact is he’s an erratic passer with limited upside. What you see now is what you’re going to get. Hodges, a rookie, seems calmer and more aware than (Charlie) Batch.

The bottom line with any smart team is you keep the best players. Unfortunately, I think they will not be smart in this case, keep Dobbs, and leave Hodges in a position to end up elsewhere.

And I think that will end up being a mistake.

A “mistake”? How often is keeping the “wrong” third-string quarterback a “mistake”? Is the NFL littered with failed Super Bowl contenders that could’ve won if only they had kept a certain fourth-string quarterback over the third-string quarterback?

No. Because — as would be the case with this year’s Steelers team — if your starter goes down, you are probably screwed. And if your second stringer gets hurt, too, then you are really in bad shape.

And let’s pump the brakes on putting Hodges on a level above a guy who lasted 14 years in the league like Batch.

One thing that emailer points out which does resonate is that Hodges’ presence could make either Dobbs or Mason Rudolph expendable in a trade. Maybe there is a team out there (Tampa, perhaps) that has some decent depth at tight end and could use an upgrade at backup quarterback.

That’s where Hodges’ value may come into play.

Short of that, though, aren’t there bigger fish for the Steelers to fry when it comes to this roster than attempting to figure out which quarterback has the honor of running the scout team and getting scratched on game day?

Like, oh, I don’t know, second receiver or slot corner?

I’m a fan of Hodges, too. And I hope he makes it somewhere, if not in Pittsburgh.

But the mania I’ve observed surrounding “Duck Dynasty’s” play simply isn’t all it’s quacked up to be.

(Sorry. I had to squeeze it in. If Hodges does get cut, this might be the only chance I have to get these puns out of my system.)

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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