Last word (for now) on Dennis Dixon

So I had a spirited debate with Pittsburgh broadcasting legend Stan Savran on Thursday regarding the question of whether the Steelers prefer to avoid seeing quarterback Dennis Dixon become regarded as a budding star during starter Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game (likely to be reduced to four) suspension.

I believe, regardless of whether anyone agrees with me, that the Steelers hope to avoid a locker-room controversy when Roethlisberger comes back regarding whether the team should continue to ride with Dixon, who seems to have very special skills.  (At a minimum, he seems to be much better equipped to survive behind a less-than-stellar offensive line than Byron Leftwich.)  I also believe that the Steelers hope to defer having to choose between keeping or trading Dixon until they’re certain that Roethlisberger can get through a full offseason without getting himself in trouble.

But there’s another point that  previously failed to consider.  The Steelers remains one of the few teams to require low-round draft picks to sign three-year contracts.  As a result, 2010 represents the final year of Dixon’s rookie deal. 

Though the details remain to be determined in the next labor deal, it’s unlikely that the threshold for restricted free agency will be increased from three years to four — especially since few teams use rookie deals with a duration of fewer than four years.

Thus, if Dixon plays and plays well during the 2010 season, the Steelers will have to possibly over-tender Dixon in order to keep him around for at least another year.  Even though there seems to be a little (or a lot) of winking and nodding when it comes to restricted free agents, a team that needs a quarterback could opt to break ranks, especially if the Steelers apply the fifth-rounder tender to Dixon.

In the end, the Steelers could be forced to use the highest tender on Dixon, which would pay him more than $3 million to back up Big Ben in 2011, if the word gets out this year that Dixon is the real deal.

So maybe, in the end, that’s one of the big reasons for the decision to hand the short-term job to Leftwich without actual competition — if, of course, the Steelers eventually believe that their record under the veteran will be comparable to what the up-and-comer can do.

68 responses to “Last word (for now) on Dennis Dixon

  1. So, you think Steelers Management would accept the risk of having a loosing record for the first 4-6 games, so they can possibly save $2-3 million next offseason?

  2. I would hope that the Steeler organization main focus is WINNING games…regardless of who they choose as their “temp” QB. If Tomlin thinks that Dixon is the best way to win while Big Ben is watching the game. so be it!!

  3. First off, Savran totally destroyed you in that argument.
    Secondly, you obviously have not been to a single day of Steelers training camp. Here is a little secret, your hero Dennis Dixon really struggled you know, throwing the football. The dropoff from Ben to Leftwich is huge, the dropoff from Leftwich to Dixon is pretty big too. Dixon can’t read a defense, and struggles throwing the ball downfield.
    So while you may have gotten a chubby over Dixon beating up Detroit Lions 3rd stringers, he left a lot of plays on the field because he didnt see wide open WR’s 20 yards downfield, instead he took off and ran the ball for 6 yards.
    Your trollish idea that Dixon could ever challenge a future HOF QB (who is only 28) for a starting job is absured.

  4. If they are really running their team like this, instead of playing the best guy that gives them the best chance to win…they should be fired, PERIOD. How could a player play for an organization he didn’t think was trying to win every game (see Raiders player moral).
    I think you’re over thinking this one Florio. Maybe he’s not smart enough or the light hasn’t “clicked” on yet.

  5. Foolio fails to realize that it is in the Steelers best interest to:
    1. Start the best players to win games.
    2. Have Dixon improve his stock so they can trade him for a high draft pick.
    3. Roethlisberger is only 28, one of the four best QB’s in the league, and only the 2nd franchise QB the team has had in 80+ years. They aren’t going to part with him no matter what.

  6. This whole conspiracy theory is garbage. Dixon has not looked good in drills or practise – by all accounts.
    If he can pick it up, he has a shot to start. If he can’t, he’ll be backing up. End of story.
    It would be interesting to see how he fares against first stringers though. If Leftwich stinks I’m sure Dixon will get his shot.

  7. As much as I hate Rapistberger I must say that anyone who thinks that Dennis Dixon would create a QB controversy is proving how little they understand about the sport. Why in the hell would you replace a young QB who has already given you two superbowls with a guy who looked OK in his very limited NFL experience? That is what some media guy would think would happen when they know absolutely nothing about football.

  8. Florio – Enough already. He played ok against Detroit’s 3rd stringers and now you want him to be the starter over a guy that won two super bowls? Why would they not want to win the first 4 games with Dixon and let their best QB (by a wide margin) come back and play out the string? It makes no sense. Your conspiracy theories are bullshit at best. Keep writing about this made up topic though, it’s great stuff.

  9. I agree DonTerrelli….Steelers are tight with money sometimes, but not at the expense at starting the season 1-3..I think if Dixon finishes the pre-season strong, Leftwich will be on a short leash to start the season. He plays bad in week one, you will see Dixon at Tennessee

  10. He came strikingly close to registering a win last season against the Ravens in what was a good game for a wet behind the ears late round pick in a pivotal point in the season.
    He has a lot of tools. And you’re 100% correct Florio, they want to avoid a quarterback controversy and having to pay Dixon big money.
    But then again, I find it hard to believe that the team would have trouble putting Roethlisberger back on the field. He has won two superbowls.

  11. I agree with Don, this is such a back-assward theory. Nobody in their sane mind (which clearly does not include you) can believe the Steelers would sabotage their season to resign a 3rd string qb, who to date has shown little promise. The Steelers would rather Dixon go 6-0, blow up, and trade him off a higher tender.

  12. If teams were remotely interested in Troy Smith then they will trip over themselves to sign Dixon

  13. Mike Florio says:
    I believe, regardless of whether anyone agrees with me, that the Steelers hope to avoid a locker-room controversy when Roethlisberger comes back regarding whether the team should continue to ride with Dixon, who seems to have very special skills.
    * * * * * *
    Mike, forgive me if I am misinterpreting your comment, but if you are really saying that there will be ANY lockerroom controversy when Ben comes back no matter who plays while he is out and no matter how well they play, then please explain why you and this site should have ANY credibility whatsoever. Ben is a PROVEN winner with 2 Super Bowl victories under his belt. With all due respect to Byron and Dennis, I don’t care how well they play, Ben will start when he returns without any major controversy.
    And from what I have heard, Ben is having one of his best camps ever, looks sharper than ever, and is in maybe the best shape of his career.
    Is there no end to what type of stories you will post here to get attention? Give me a break.

  14. I don’t buy QB controversy avoidance theory- BR is a two-time Super Bowl winning QB whatever else you and I think of him. If Dixon went 4-0 with a 115 passer rating, BR’s job would be safe. And again you are making the mistake of thinking that football teams care what their fans think.
    The free agency theory, however, makes some sense. If they think Dixon is the real deal, it may be in their best interest to hide him if possible. If they think Leftwitch can get them to 2-2, they probably believe that BR will be able to get them to the playoffs when he returns.

  15. Who cares about Dennis Dixon? And why even speculate that the suspension “may” be reduced to 4 games? Everyone with a brain knows it will be reduced so you may as well consider it a 4 game suspension. If Roger Goodell had any balls instead of being a wall-flower for the league he would just leave it at 6 games period. I wouldn’t let my daughter go anywhere near that disgusting creep (“Big Ben” (ass-hole))and if I were the owner of the Steelers he would be long-gone. And THEN you would have good reason to discuss Dennis Dixon all you wanted.

  16. How many times does it need to be proven before people stop thinking run around guys are better for teams with bad OL’s?
    Run around guys get sacked and hit statistically more than guys who don’t because they get happy feet and rely on their running instead of moving within the pocket/stepping up. We just remember the few running plays that work out, not the vast majority of the time it doesn’t.

  17. The Steelers got Dixon for a steal
    If he wouldn’t have hurt himself his last year at Oregon he would have been drafted in the first two rounds instead of the 5th
    trade bait and maximize it with the pre-season to showcase him

  18. Do you actually believe what you are typing?
    The NFL is about winning, playing the best personnel available. Not holding a player back to save money on possible future contract with a player.
    Wins = Money for the franchise owners
    Geez, I would have thought you would know this by now.

    Tomlin drafted Dixon
    Tomlin doesn’t like Ben, he inherited him.
    I think Tomlin wants to roll with Dixon, but doesn’t want to hinder any trade value Ben might gain during his rehabilitation? (wink, wink)

  20. I’m not a Steelers fan, but this doesn’t make sense. I listened to the audio you referenced in this, and you didn’t even know that Dixon only started because Batch was hurt? The game was on your network, and you couldn’t go back and at least dig that up? To suggest that Mike Tomlin cares what Dennis Dixon’s agent thinks of his QB usage is somewhat laughable. Mike Tomlin’s job is tied directly to wins and losses, and he is going to do whatever he has to do to win football games. Furthermore, why does it matter what any player thinks of who should be starting? Maybe some of those players think Keenan Lewis should start of Bryant McFadden at corner. I don’t think Dick LeBeau is going to even entertain a player telling him who to put on the field, let alonet he head coach being bullied by an agent or player.
    Dennis Dixon, by all camp reports, has had trouble grasping the playbook and completing routine passes. I’m not sure how he would be expected to step on to an NFL field as a starter and succeed when he can’t even do so in a controlled camp environment. They could bring in Brett Favre and it wouldn’t cause a QB controversy over their 2 time Super Bowl winning, 4,000+ yard passing quarterback.
    I’d let this die too if I had dug myself such a hole that not even a backhoe could get me out of.

  21. dixon was lucky the steelers were that close in that game. the ravens screwed it up royally and almost lost.
    the blitz call where dixon scored was a horribly bad call by balto.
    ya play slot zone on QBS like that to see where they will go. also cause they cant read defenses.

  22. Florio, you’re losing more credibility every day. This post seals the deal for me. We all laugh every time you’re on radio or TV. “What is this little queer doing talking about football”? You look more suited to talk about chess or tennis or field hockey. Please stop making a fool of yourself and stay off the airwaves and stop writing these embarrassing posts. The Steeler fans know a hell of lot more about their team than you so STFU! That’s a free tip for you.

  23. @Wonka 2 says:
    August 20, 2010 9:26 AM
    Your trollish idea that Dixon could ever challenge a future HOF QB (who is only 28) for a starting job is absured.
    Future HOF QB!!!!
    Gimme a break you idiot.

  24. Do your research.
    Dixon’s performance in spring practices was horrible.
    Dixon’s performances in camp have been very inconsistent.
    Even against the Lions, it was check your first option, then run.
    Dixon isn’t even “Kordell Light.”
    He may develop into a decent QB if he focuses on learning the position as it is played in the NFL, but he’s a one step forward, three steps back kind of QB.
    He’ll make a brilliant run or throw on the run one play, then through a stupid INT the next.
    Leftwich is a serviceable veteran who won’t make stupid decisions and gives the Steelers the best chance of winning in Ben’s absence and the Steelers are about winning.
    It is that simple.

  25. Florio, why even write this? Were you just bored? Do you realize the charge you’re making?
    I mean, really: The Steelers are going to deliberately avoid allowing a young player to develop and show what he can do, all to avoid paying him next year. Riiiight.

  26. Alfie says:
    August 20, 2010 9:50 AM
    How many times does it need to be proven before people stop thinking run around guys are better for teams with bad OL’s?
    Run around guys get sacked and hit statistically more than guys who don’t because they get happy feet and rely on their running instead of moving within the pocket/stepping up. We just remember the few running plays that work out, not the vast majority of the time it doesn’t.
    That’s actually a really good point. Until David Carr broke it in 2006, Randall Cunningham, who many people believe to be the best running QB in history, held the single season record for most sacks with 72.
    Just like a running back, a running QB needs somewhere to run.

  27. You know nothing about the Steelers or football for that matter. You just want to post garbage just to stir up controversy for your web site. You were owned by Stan Savran.

  28. Leftwich is about as mobile as a tree stump.
    Play Dixon, and then do after the season what New England did with Cassel – trade him for draft picks.

  29. I will file Florio’s arguments for Dixon as the Ben’s new replacement right there with his 2008 Sporting news article:
    I like to read it whenever he likes to show off his expertise in all things Steelers. He boldly predicted doom for the Steelers in early 2008. They of course won the Superbowl. Florio we have already seen what a running quarterback who cant read defenses and who pulls the ball down instead of hit open receivers can do. I think this franchise will be just fine without your “expert” opinion. Should they meet Detroit this year in the Superbowl and both the first and second string defense is hurt, give them a call then.

  30. Ben will keep it in his pants because its to small to come out. that is for men. And he is no man.
    He is still and alway will be a PIG.

  31. To the guy who says Leftwich won’t make any stupid decisions, move your rock son. You cannot possibly have watched the guy play for the Bucs or Jaguars. Stupid is a very kind understatement.

  32. Is this a pride thing – you got owned by Stan Savran, but want to continue to argue your case when he isn’t around to make yourself feel better? Does Stan have a blog I can read instead?

  33. Florio – werent you the one that said that Dixon was Tomlin’s pick, not Ben? Logic would suggest that, given that assumption and the opportunity of Ben being suspended for part of the season, Tomlin would jump at the opportunity to put his guy in and let him play.
    I think there’s more involved here than what the public and media sees. Half of the practices are closed-door, and its very likely Dixon isn’t impressing when it counts. Tomlin even said the day after the Lions game that Dixon’s numbers came in the 4th quarter, and Arians is upset that Dixon rushed when recievers were open. When your coaches are saying those things about you, I wouldn’t plan on becoming a starter anytime soon.

  34. AllThat says:
    August 20, 2010 10:17 AM
    “Future HOF QB!!!!
    Gimme a break you idiot.”
    You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m pretty sure you don’t know how to support that opinion. Nor are you required to do so. But by not doing so, you’re really just running your mouth and proving yourself to be someone’s girlfriend that watches football just to see some cute butts in tight pants.

  35. The debate you had w/ Stan was interesting, but your argument is too far based in conspiracy theory and not in fact. Sure, Dixon can be entertaining to watch run around…but the Steelers would be screwed if they depended on him to drop back and throw the ball. Every single reporter covering training camp has said so and you can see that watching the guy play.
    Give Dixon some plays and a chance to get better but he is not a starter in the NFL right now. Leftwich is the best choice in the short term.

  36. I just read another article (the one re: coaches on the hotseat in 2010) where Florio goes so far as to almost place part of the blame for Roethlisberger’s off-season behavior on Mike Tomlin, and then I read this. Sucking down a little too much of that WV moonshine, Florio?

  37. florio, you really are a fn tool. You have no clue, and your attempt to gain ratings is as lame as you are.
    You know nothing about football, or how it works. AVOID A LOCKER ROOM CONTROVERSY? The guy (ben) has won 2 superbowl rings, and will win at least 2 more. And you think if they play Dixon, and if he plays well, that could spell an issue….LMFAO….you are a clown.
    Dixon doesn’t play becaues he cant process the playbook. Sources close to the team have said it.

  38. @bdrunk
    You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m pretty sure you don’t know how to support that opinion. Nor are you required to do so. But by not doing so, you’re really just running your mouth and proving yourself to be someone’s girlfriend that watches football just to see some cute butts in tight pants.
    Sounds to me like you are someone’s girlfriend by making a statement like that. Speaking of running one’s mouth reread your post dipshit. I just mae a comment, you ran your mouth. Lil girl!

  39. # AllThat says: August 20, 2010 10:17 AM
    Future HOF QB!!!!
    Gimme a break you idiot.
    ==================== ==============
    # birdmancometh says: August 20, 2010 10:55 AM
    @wonka 2 – You must be a steelers fan. One of the 4 best QB’s in the league? Wow.
    AllThat and birdmancometh, you are both morons if you don’t realize that Roethlisberger is elite. Sit down, grab a pen and paper and take notes. School is in session.
    Do you realize???
    Ben has the most wins of any QB ever to start his career over the first 6 years?
    He leads the NFL in 4th QTR comebacks over the last 6 years.
    He went 13-0 as a rookie.
    He is 10th All-Time in QB rating
    He is 5th All-Time in Yards Per Attempt.
    He is 9th All-Time in completion percentage.
    He has had a Qb rating over 98 in 4 of his 6 seasons.
    He has had a completion % over 65% and a YPA over 8.6 3 times each in his career.
    He has 2 SB wins, including the best drive in SB history to win one of them.
    As a 2nd year player he went on the road in the playoffs and won 3 straight games with a combined QB rating of 125, including 7 TD’s and 1 INT.
    He is 8-2 in his career in the playoffs with an 87.2 QB rating.
    He is 60-26 as a starting QB.
    If the guy stays healthy for another 4 or 5 years his stats will make him a lock for the HOF. The only QB’s in the game today that you can make a reasonable argument that are as good or better are Brees, Manning, and Brady. Nobody else has the combination of wins, stats, and clutch that Ben has. Go ahead and hate the guy for being a douche, but realize he is elite, and one of the best QB’s ever to play the game. The stats bear that out, so do the wins and the titles. (Sorry if he isn’t good enough at “fantasy football” for some of you geeks)
    Class dismissed!

  40. By the way, Stan Savran kicked you little punk ass all over the radio, broke you down left and right. They laughed at you when you left and suggested what a tool you really are. Really, listen to the podcast.

  41. I believe, regardless of whether anyone agrees with me, that the Steelers hope to avoid a locker-room controversy when Roethlisberger comes back regarding whether the team should continue to ride with Dixon, who seems to have very special skills.
    So basically what you’re saying is that you will continue believing what you believe regardless of the facts pointing to the contrary.
    I believe that Barack Obama is an alien from the planet Gurpleton that has come to Earth to astound us with his teleprompt reading skills, his ability to drop the word, “Uhhhh,” into every sentence he speaks without reading from a teleprompter, and his tap-dancing skills… to be displayed at a later date (probably during his re-election bid). No matter what somebody proves to me contrary to my belief, I will continue to believe my Barack Zorgbot Obama of Gurpleton theory.

  42. Florio,
    First of all this is when you are at your best, when you break down roster situations involving money.
    However are you trying to tell us that the Steelers would rather have ineffective QB’ing and lose games rather than spend money?
    Looks like Pittsburgh is going to mail in the 2010 season.
    shouldn’t it be “Steelers remain”.
    just saying.

  43. Wonka2 sure schooled AllThat and birdmancometh. That was too easy! Those haters can’t be rational and honest when discussing football. They are merely homers and not knowledgeable football fans.
    Love or hate Ben, if you can’t admit he is one of the top QB’s in the league right now with amazing stats, then you have no credibility or knowledge of the game. Quit cryin’.

  44. Dixon is not a bum, he is just another Vince Young, Kordell Stewart, or Mike Vick. Lots of flash, but when it comes down to it, he can’t pass the football on an NFL. Passing on a 30 yards pass for an 8 yard run doesn’t cut it in the NFL.
    You can win games with him and players of his ilk, but not titles. Only a complete brain dead moron like Milk Foolio would suggest trading an elite HOF QB in favor of Kordell-lite.

  45. @Wonka2
    Looks like you are the fantasy geek with those stats..Do you keep them posted on your basement wall Willy…Elite QB is not even close…….

  46. I say give Dixon a chance. He kept the Steelers in the Ravens game and looked like he had potential. Give him a shot, I bet he’ll be able to avoid sacks waaay better than Byron.
    My great-great grandchildren will be graduating college before he finishes one of his windmill windup & throws.

  47. You never fail to amaze me Florio. Every day you prove what a huge steelers homer you are and you make these ridiculous theories. Yeah i am sure the Steelers don’t want to play Dixon because they feel he will play great and they won’t have a QB controversy. You unknowingly are saying Tomlin is a fool in not playing the best player at QB. I thought Redskins fans were the biggest homers but you give them a run for their money Florio.
    Let’s look at New York where Giants 3rd stringer QB Rhett Bomar played well against the Jets backups and is starting tomorrow because Eli and Jim Sorgi are out. He was once a highly touted QB coming into Oklahoma so if he plays well the Giants are sure to have a QB controversy right Florio? I have to give you credit because you post these ridiculous theories and it drives traffic to your site because people want to read what ridiculous theory you will come up with next.

  48. I agree with you Mike. I said the same thing to my friends the other day that Pittsburgh might not want Dixon to shine while Ben is gone, so that it won’t be any contraversy when Ben comes back.

  49. # AllThat says: August 20, 2010 12:07 PM
    ——————– ——————– ———-
    Looks like you are the fantasy geek with those stats..Do you keep them posted on your basement wall Willy…Elite QB is not even close…….
    Wonderful argument backed up with stats and facts there AllThat. You sure make resounding arguments in your favor. the “is not even close” line really made me change my opinion. Man, you sure showed me up!

  50. Perez Florio wishes Dennis Dixon would whip his “Big Ben” out for him it would seem.
    Face it Mrs. Florio, Ben is the franchise QB. Like him or not, he has been nothing but a success for that team (on the field). There is no QB controversy until Ben shows himself to be a total flop this year (he won’t) or gets into trouble again (which won’t happen).

  51. Florio, you’re making yourself look like you don’t know about football.
    You’re talking yourself into a hole.

  52. Mr. Florio likes to stir the pot. The majority of replies are both humorous and a good rebuttal of your “thinking”, Mr. Florio.
    “We could tangle spiders in the webs you weave.”
    Richard the Lion heart,
    The Lion In Winter

  53. Leftwich stinks. He is the 6th best qb on roster… Ben, Dixon, Batch, Hines Ward, Arnaz Battle then Byron Sanwich.

  54. Oh, I get it.
    this is the Message board where inferior white doods come to hate on Superior BLack athletes.
    carry on.

  55. Florio, you’re a gossip columnist. You have made a lot of money developing this business and you should be commended. However, don’t let the business success cloud your thinking. You really don’t know what you’re talking about.
    You’re a man (I think). Stop acting like a woman. It’s not good for your kid.

  56. @ sportsburg3
    I dont think anyone was trying to get racial until you threw your 2 cents in.
    The reason people are comparing Dixon to Mike Vick,Vince Young and Kordell Stewart is that they are running quarterbacks not known for being able to throw the football.I didnt see anyone come on here any say that Dixon couldnt play because he was black.Until those guys prove that they can consistently beat you with throwing the football,Then thats the stigma they are going to be labeled with.Oh and BTW Steve Young was labeled with just being a running QB early in his career,but last i checked he wasnt black.
    I want the best guy in the game.I really couldnt care less what color he is.As far as Florio goes,Yeah I bet alot guys on the team would rather have a unproven,raw talent like Dixon who apparently rather run for 6 yards insted of hitting a wide open receiver 15 yards down the field instead of a stud-2x winning qb who is only 28 years old.What a Moron!!

  57. He is not a starting QB. They would be happy to get their 5th rd investment back and draft another project or trade the 5th for 3rd stringer.

  58. Aw, gee, hate that I missed this party.
    Mike, Mike, Mike … since I know you’re not stupid, you can only be hoping against hope to convince people to stop believing their own eyes. If Dixon showed any promise, they’d start him. He doesn’t–except in a possible wildcat role. So sorry to dash your hopes for a QB controversy around which to build article after article when Roethlisberger returns. Fear not, though, something else will turn up.

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