Writer and professor Peter F. Drucker once said, “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” Mr. Drucker wouldn't strike anyone as a football fan, but that quote is very fitting for the Steelers use of quarterback Dennis Dixon.© 2010 Steelers Universe
Ed Bouchette recently said that Byron Leftwich will be the starter in the absence of Ben Roethlisberger. While Leftwich is certainly a capable quarterback in his own right, the issue here is with how Dixon fits in with the team's future plans.
Ever since he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, the use for him never was clear. Sitting behind Big Ben, Charlie Batch, and Leftwich, coupled with an ACL tear suffered later in his senior year at Oregon, playing time was scarce early on. Dixon did snag one start last season, under the bright Monday Night lights against the Ravens. Though he played well given the circumstances, it was said that Bruce Arians told Dixon to give him only 15 plays he was most comfortable with, it was only one start.
With the unfortunate events that occurred this offseason, it's safe to say this would be the best chance for Dixon to show the coaches and fans what he can bring to the table. That thought is furthered as he enters his third year in the league and will be as comfortable as ever in both Arians' offense and as an NFL player in general.
Understanding that it is a difficult situation and that giving the team the best chance to win should be, and will be, the primary goal (And if that means starting Leftwich, so be it. I have no issue with him starting) I can't help but wonder if Dixon has a future here. He is entering the last year of his deal and though he'll likely be here in 2011, it will be under a restricted free agent tender. Meaning, he'll become an unrestricted free agent in 2012 (a looming lockout/new CBA do cloud these matters, but let's put that aside for the moment). When Ben Roethlisberger returns, he won't be looking back. Dixon doesn't have an opportunity as good as the one he has now.
Is Dixon going to end up being the #2 backup? Perhaps, but do you want that guy to have the limited experience Dixon has? The team doesn't seem to find that route very appealing, opting to bring back veterans in Leftwich and Batch. Will Dixon be used as trade bait? Unlikely, given the aforementioned limited experience and the difficulty of trading for draft picks. It seems like a lose-lose situation.
This begs the question: What was the plan for Dixon when he was drafted? Better yet, was there a plan? Not to imply that Colbert and company simply threw a dart and it landed on Dixon's name; rather, the catalyst for the pick being promise and hope.
A pick without commitment or plan.