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Jon Gruden thinks Steelers should go with Dennis Dixon

Much debate has occurred regarding whether the Steelers should entrust the short-term quarterbacking job to Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon, during the suspension of starter Ben Roethlisberger.

Dixon earned a shot at work with the first-team by dramatically outperforming Leftwich in the first two preseason games, during which Leftwich played with the starters and Dixon played with the reserves.  After Dixon stunk it up on Sunday night against Denver’s top defense, the pendulum seemed to swing back to Leftwich.

Count ESPN’s Jon Gruden among those who aren’t convinced that Leftwich is the answer. 

“The Steelers are a team that really relies on Ben Roethlisberger’s
improvisation,” Gruden said during a Monday Night Football
conference call, according to Jim Corbett of USAToday.com.  “I’ve never seen a guy create more offense on his own.  He gets out of some of the most incredible situations where he makes
plays where they have him sacked twice and he still completes a pass.

“The guy who fits them the best right now, the guy I would go with is Dixon.”

Gruden pointed to Dixon’s mobility and his time in the system.  “I
realize he threw a couple of interceptions against Denver,” Gruden said.  “I just
think his escapability, his ability to run for two first downs, create
another two first downs scrambling out of trouble, checking it down, or
finding a big play down the field gives him the edge over these other
two quarterbacks. . . .  All they have to do is win like they
won in Ben’s rookie year, run the ball, play good defense — don’t turn
it over and make some timely plays in the passing game . . . .  Dennis Dixon can do that.”

Adding an extra layer of intrigue to Gruden’s assessment is the fact that, from 2002 through 2005, Gruden’s defensive backs coach in Tampa was a guy who is now the head coach of the Steelers.

So will Mike Tomlin listen to the guy to whom he once routinely deferred?  Stay tuned.

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55 Responses to “Jon Gruden thinks Steelers should go with Dennis Dixon”
  1. It puts the lotion on the skin says: Sep 1, 2010 3:55 PM

    Anybody who dislikes the Steelers, is also hoping they go with Dixon….he was pathetic the other night

  2. SantonioH10 says: Sep 1, 2010 3:57 PM

    Dixon had good escapability and mobility… against the Lions’ and Giants’ backups. Against the Broncos starting squad he didn’t make his scrambling look nearly as effortless as he did against guys who are on the roster bubble. He also made numerous awful decisions which you just can’t have when you need someone to simply manage the games until Ben returns. Leftwich hasn’t been stellar, but he’s been consistently average and honestly that’s all we need for 4 (I hope) games.
    Dixon is far too inconsistent at this point in his career to be a starting QB, but he certainly has the tools. Right now, however, is not his big breakthrough.

  3. therewasone says: Sep 1, 2010 3:59 PM

    WHO CARES!!!!!!!

  4. Polorl69 says: Sep 1, 2010 4:00 PM

    Jon Gruden’s opinion on QB’s is well respected in my book!

  5. gazretired says: Sep 1, 2010 4:05 PM

    Gruden gets paid by ESPN for his opinions. That’s all it is, one man’s opinion. No more, no less. No big deal.

  6. Laxer37 says: Sep 1, 2010 4:07 PM

    Florio says:
    “Dixon stunk it up on Sunday night against Denver’s top defense”.
    ————————————————-
    All the scribes are way too emotional about Dixon’s performance last Sunday. Granted, the interception he threw in the redzone was awful. However, if you look at the total body of work, he moved the ball with his arm, made plays with his feet, and looked very comfortable in the pocket.
    Apparently, Jon Gruden was watching the same game I was.

  7. jj jones says: Sep 1, 2010 4:07 PM

    Gruden giving advice on picking a QB is like Larry King giving advice on picking a wife.

  8. Eric Hipple says: Sep 1, 2010 4:07 PM

    As a football fan in general, I think it would be more exciting to see Dixon. Nothing against Leftwich but he’s a boring vet. He won’t kill ya but he also has almost no upside. Dixon still possesses that youthful intrigue, where you’re not quite sure what you may have with him. I’d love to see him get a shot.

  9. YourJustJealous says: Sep 1, 2010 4:11 PM

    The Steelers should go with ANY QB except the Rapist. (Yes, I said the RAPIST)

  10. florio4prez says: Sep 1, 2010 4:12 PM

    Gruden. Gruden? He’s a former NFL head coach, right?
    Tunch Ilkin nailed it on the WDVE pre-game show. He stated that the question on who would be named the Steelers starting QB would be answered that night by the play of Dixon.
    Dixon (in effect) named Leftwich.

  11. cmich06 says: Sep 1, 2010 4:20 PM

    In Ben’s rookie year we had an Oline and a HOF RB where we could run the ball and not be stopped…we have neither now

  12. CT Pats Fan says: Sep 1, 2010 4:23 PM

    Oh God…can some team PLEASE hire Jon Gruden so we don’t have to hear his analysis any more? And hire the entire MNF (all 30 of them) crew as assistants. It’s getting unwatchable

  13. Dooly says: Sep 1, 2010 4:25 PM

    John Gruden – yet another example of someone who can’t tell the difference between being lucky and being smart.

  14. CD_Ridge says: Sep 1, 2010 4:27 PM

    Really? Well Gruden is wrong, again.

  15. Vicente Bastardo says: Sep 1, 2010 4:29 PM

    First, I will second therewasone’s comment, specifically to the now patented Florio “let’s read way too far into things” comment about Tomlin being the secondary coach in Tampa during Gruden’s tenure.
    Second, now that Gruden has sounded off my backing of Leftwich is even stronger.

  16. Blackbeard says: Sep 1, 2010 4:31 PM

    I think they ought to try Dixon again this week. Then depending on how he plays make a decision.

  17. Jack Burton says: Sep 1, 2010 4:33 PM

    Let’s hope if Dixon gets the call again it won’t be the same results as the other night. Sanders breaking to the ball on that INT/TD would have kept that play from going south.

  18. tomiesteel says: Sep 1, 2010 4:36 PM

    Steelers will be going to Dixon by default when Leftwich gets sandwiched in the first qt with that O line

  19. queenie says: Sep 1, 2010 4:37 PM

    “I’ve never seen a guy create more offense on his own. He gets out of some of the most incredible situations where he makes plays where they have him sacked twice and he still completes a pass.
    __________________
    My delusional ravens fans here in baltimore swear that Ben sprays himself with Pam, the non-stick cooking spray, so he can’t be held onto….LOL!
    I do not care what anyone says he is easily among the top 5 QB’s in the league.
    No matter who the starting QB is for those 1st 4 games I think we are in deep crap without Big Ben.
    Go Steelers!

  20. smo05d says: Sep 1, 2010 4:37 PM

    Merrill Hoge thinks the Steelers should go with Charlie Batch (per Smizik article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
    At this point, I would absolutely take Charlie Batch over Leftwich and pretty much over Dixon as well.

  21. Deb says: Sep 1, 2010 4:38 PM

    Is that the same Jon Gruden who was fired from his last coaching position? Woo-hoo!!
    I think we should make good use of our RBs while alternating anyone at QB who can move the ball a few feet without turning it over and praying the defense can keep us in it until October 17.

  22. Biglardawg says: Sep 1, 2010 4:40 PM

    Leftwich or Dixon. Don’t they both suck?

  23. tk1966 says: Sep 1, 2010 4:41 PM

    YourJustJealous says:
    September 1, 2010 4:11 PM
    The Steelers should go with ANY QB except the Rapist. (Yes, I said the RAPIST)
    ________________________________
    It actually took nine posts before someone posted that same old tired crap. C’mon, can’t you come up with something new? Something creative? The gauntlet has been thrown down – now gather with your study buddies, discuss over juice and cookies, and tell us what you come up with during your next recess.

  24. IntelligentOne says: Sep 1, 2010 4:49 PM

    @
    # YourJustJealous says: September 1, 2010 4:11 PM
    The Steelers should go with ANY QB except the Rapist. (Yes, I said the RAPIST)
    And you should suck a monkeys nuts!! You (Butt Pirate)!! LOL!

  25. Didier says: Sep 1, 2010 4:51 PM

    And, that’s the reason Gruden is no longer a head coach in the NFL. Next………

  26. Richm2257 says: Sep 1, 2010 4:55 PM

    “The Steelers are a team that really relies on Ben Roethlisberger’s improvisation,” Gruden said, “I’ve never seen a guy create more offense on his own. He gets out of some of the most incredible situations where he makes plays where they have him sacked twice and he still completes a pass.”
    Gruden pointed to Dixon’s mobility and his time in the system. “I realize he threw a couple of interceptions against Denver”, “I just think his escapability, his ability to run for two first downs, create another two first downs scrambling out of trouble, checking it down, or finding a big play down the field gives him the edge over these other two quarterbacks
    ————————————————
    Maybe if their offensive line did a half-decent job, NONE of these QBs would have to be so “improvisational”, eh “Chuckie”?
    By the way, didn’t Gruden just pick Sanchez and the Jets to win more games than Brady and the Pats?
    ‘Nuff said about this guy’s opinion.

  27. kmac45 says: Sep 1, 2010 5:01 PM

    yeah, jon gruden had a great history with quarterbacks. what is you facination with dennis dixon’s dick florio?

  28. mrogers18 says: Sep 1, 2010 5:02 PM

    It seemed to me the Steelers were calling pass plays that they may not call in a regular season game with Dixon at the helm, just to see if Dixon could make the throws. The INT in the endzone, there is no excuse. But the INT where he threw an outside curl route doesn’t seem like a play that would be called in a real time situation. I agree with Gruden, if Tomlin emphasizes the check down or the run if the receiver isn’t completely wide open the Steelers have the best chance to get the job done over those four games.

  29. Slow Joe says: Sep 1, 2010 5:04 PM

    I honestly thought Batch looked better than either Dixon or Leftwich.

  30. C.Bass says: Sep 1, 2010 5:08 PM

    Free Ben!!

  31. Scoop says: Sep 1, 2010 5:10 PM

    He’s got a point. Leftwich probably gets sacked 5 or 6 times against the pressure Dixon faced.

  32. Deb says: Sep 1, 2010 5:14 PM

    @Richm2257 says:
    Maybe if their offensive line did a half-decent job, NONE of these QBs would have to be so “improvisational”, eh “Chuckie”?
    By the way, didn’t Gruden just pick Sanchez and the Jets to win more games than Brady and the Pats?
    ‘Nuff said about this guy’s opinion.
    ————————————————
    I agree with that.
    GASP … it’s the first sign of the Apocalypse!!!!

  33. Holeinone09 says: Sep 1, 2010 5:18 PM

    I think they should play whomever is playing better than the other guy. Since neither of them will start once Ben returns, then play who has the hot hand, or as I said before, possibly rotate for a periodic change of pace. If I had to made one choice, my gut tells me Leftwich with his experience deserves to start until he screws up. I just think that although he is current the better athlete than Leftwich, Dixon will be prone to too many big mistakes simply because he lacks experience. And yes, how the OL performs may indeed dictate how much each one plays. Dixon is clearly the better scrambler.
    As I have said before, the Steelers will need to run the ball successfully and play solid defense, while Ben is out. Games will likely have to be relatively low scoring. Frankly, if they can do that, you almost can’t even rule Batch out of the picture.
    No matter, it’s finally football season, win or lose for the first 4 games. The season won’t be over after those first 4 games. It will be very interesting to watch.
    GO STEELERS!!

  34. JSpicoli says: Sep 1, 2010 5:19 PM

    Anyone who knows football and watches the games would agree with Gruden.

  35. brownsfn19 says: Sep 1, 2010 5:23 PM

    Who cares what that douchebag thinks…
    *newsflash* Thats why your in the booth and not on the sidelines!!!

  36. Allied Biscuit says: Sep 1, 2010 5:25 PM

    I now mute my TV when MNF is on because of Jon Gruden. It’s nice. you should all try it.

  37. queenie says: Sep 1, 2010 5:29 PM

    @ deb
    I think we should make good use of our RBs while alternating anyone at QB who can move the ball a few feet without turning it over and praying the defense can keep us in it until October 17.
    ______________
    YES…totally agree about the D-Line having to really step it up…hopefully they can hold it together now that Troy is back and everyone can stay healthy for those 1st 4 games.
    Go Steelers!

  38. gotsix? says: Sep 1, 2010 5:32 PM

    gotta go with dixon and get his trade value up. Besides, at least he can get out of the way becasue leftwich sits like a stone in the pocket; a stone that will be repeatedly sacked because of a weak left side

  39. JungleClone says: Sep 1, 2010 5:44 PM

    Charlie Batch is still better than Leftwich or Dixon

  40. g_antonio says: Sep 1, 2010 5:45 PM

    Gruden shouldn’t talk about what he doesn’t know. Dixon clearly isn’t comfortable yet leading the offense, has trouble making decisive decisions and needs to wait for his starting time. The Steelers can win with the 2008 Leftwich. However, Leftwich did not get into a rhythm this preseason because of a lack of reps. He said himself he was glad the preseason is four games long in order for him to get ready. Dixon never should have been in that long against Den. He clearly is not ready to be an NFL starting QB.

  41. ganggreenguido says: Sep 1, 2010 5:45 PM

    He gets out of some of the most incredible situations where he makes plays where they have him sacked twice
    is gruden referring to big bens propensity to get out of sexual assault accusations?

  42. raidersteve413 says: Sep 1, 2010 5:49 PM

    Nobody cares florio about your steelers and your crush on gruden. Dumbest story in hustory on any kind of NFL news site

  43. 4ever19 says: Sep 1, 2010 5:57 PM

    I think if Gruden says Dixon, it has to be anyone but Dixon.

  44. Dave3258 says: Sep 1, 2010 5:59 PM

    A quarterback who can only use his legs simply wont work come crunch time . Just ask ex-steeler QB Kordell Stewert .

  45. Ravenmaniac says: Sep 1, 2010 6:02 PM

    Can anyone tell me why noone is talking about Charlie Batch???? He knows the offense inside and out….and usually does really well. I would put him in and cut Leftwich…..
    Dixon is not a bad QB. He is a QB that had a bad game.

  46. BigBear123 says: Sep 1, 2010 6:15 PM

    All 3 backups looked bad against the Broncos.

  47. Dont Taze Me Bro says: Sep 1, 2010 6:26 PM

    Of course Gruden wants Dixon. He’s a QB coach, so he’s always looking at the guy with potential. It would make sense if the steelers didn’t have Ben and were looking for for a QB of the future. They’re just looking for a guy to start 4 games. Why would they go with the guy who is learning on the job?
    Gruden should also realize that part of why Ben makes so many plays by himself is because he holds the ball too long looking for the big play.
    Leftwich will get rid of the ball quicker (or at least he’ll begin the process of throwing the ball quicker). He also won;t get suckered into interceptions like Dixon.
    People go crazy because Dixon played pretty well against Baltimore last year. They forget a few things.
    1.Dixon was a surprise start so the Ravens couldn’t gameplan.
    2. The Ravens secondary is terrible and their pass rush was weak last year.
    3. The ravens did adjust and Dixon didn’t do that great in the second half.
    4. The game was lost on a Dixon INT in OT.

  48. Beer Cheese Soup says: Sep 1, 2010 6:28 PM

    Deb says:
    Is that the same Jon Gruden who was fired from his last coaching position? Woo-hoo!!
    I think we should make good use of our RBs while alternating anyone at QB who can move the ball a few feet without turning it over and praying the defense can keep us in it until October 17.
    ____________
    A lot of good coaches have been fired throughout the years. Tampa fired Dungy as well, are you going to tell me he sucks?
    Jon Gruden has forgotten more about quarterbacks in his life than any of us have known. He doesn’t know much about defense, to his downfall, but he knows about QBs.
    So, if he says you should go with Dixon, (which is what I’ve said since the day the suspension was handed down), then you should go with Dixon. I doubt it will happen though. Arians is certainly no Gruden.
    As for the rest of your post.. Sadly, Arians’ offense doesn’t involve running the ball whatsoever, your OL isn’t athletic enough to support a run-first approach, and Mendenhall simply isn’t an every-down back.
    Worse yet, the recent Leavy confession will no doubt have you under extra scrutiny, so you can count on having less and less of the referee assistance that made you a successful team this decade.
    So, just as in the ’70s, it all comes down to defense. We’ll see how that works out for you. Starting Dixon could help though. The kid is a playmaker.

  49. brasho says: Sep 1, 2010 6:43 PM

    Yes, and he’s the same idiot that thought Brian Griese was a better option for the Buccaneers than Luke McCown.
    Besides that, Leftwich is the anti-West Coast QB, pathetically slow release, perhaps even slower feet, poor accuracy on the short passes, Gruden wouldn’t have played him even if his other options were Rob Johnson, Shaun King, and Jay Gruden.

  50. FloriosHairHat says: Sep 1, 2010 7:55 PM

    # YourJustJealous says: September 1, 2010 4:11 PM
    “The Steelers should go with ANY QB except the Rapist. (Yes, I said the RAPIST)”
    Oh… so you must REALLY mean it then huh?
    Well, that makes it MUCH more importance.
    Thanks for clearing that up.
    /snicker

  51. zam says: Sep 1, 2010 8:35 PM

    If there’s one thing Gruden knows, it’s quarterbacks.
    Signed,
    Shaun King
    Rob Johnson
    Chris Simms
    Brian Griese
    Luke McCown
    Bruce Gradkowski

  52. Deb says: Sep 1, 2010 10:48 PM

    Ah, Soup to Nuts … you’re so cute when you get conspiratorial ;)
    No matter what the Left Coast QB Guru thinks, Dixon doesn’t have it, love. Wish he did–would let me sleep peacefully knowing the offense was in good hands with mobile feet because you’re right about the limitations of our line. Great mobility and an okay arm, but he can’t grasp the mental game. Struggles to learn the playbook and can’t make the reads. Panic-and-run is not the equivalent of a QB option.
    If they can use him in some Slash-type plays, great. If they alternate him with Leftwich to keep defenses off-balance, fine. We’re going to have to be creative. Arians managed to call the offense that made it to and won SBXLIII. He’s capable of much better than he demonstrated last season and was already committed to run more this year. Mendenhall isn’t our only good back.
    The only Leavy I know about felt he blew a couple of calls through his own incompetence–and other refs dispute his assessment. But that would be a reason to watch Leavy more closely–not Pittsburgh.

  53. GRpatriot says: Sep 2, 2010 9:37 AM

    This guy, that guy commentator John Gruden should try to find a real coaching gig! Oh, that’s right no one wants him???
    This guy is wearing on my last nerve! STFU!!!

  54. AdamEagle5 says: Sep 2, 2010 10:38 AM

    What’s Chuckie smoking? Dixon looked like crap when he got in the game.

  55. olcap says: Sep 2, 2010 12:29 PM

    Mike Tomlin’s head is so big, he will do exactly the opposite of what anyone except the Rooneys tell him. The other thing against him is that he’s a moron.

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