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Dixon’s Agent Not Sure Why QB is Behind Leftwich on Depth Chart

You knew that this had to be coming at some point. Dennis Dixon is not the happiest guy in the world, as he is clearly behind vet Byron Leftwich on the depth chart, and for really no reason.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich enters training camp as the top backup behind Ben Roethlisberger, and the expected starter while Roethlisberger serves a six-game suspension to begin the 2010 regular season. Dennis Dixon, last year’s top back-up to Roethlisberger, would like more first-team reps, John Harris of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

“I would say yes. Everybody would like to take the first-team reps,” Dixon said. “Once you get your shot, you want to show that you can get it done. I’m pretty sure there will be a point in time when that happens. It hasn’t right now.” Jeffrey Sperbeck, Dixon’s agent, doesn’t know why his client is behind Leftwich on the depth chart.

“I think Dennis should be given an opportunity to start,” Sperbeck said. “He’s been there going on three years. He knows the offense. He’s familiar with his teammates. He’s ready to go. I don’t understand why after Byron’s been gone a year, they would bring him back and start him ahead of Dennis. To me, it should have been Dennis’ job as the No. 1. He was No. 2 last year. Byron was not even in the picture.”

Now of course his agent is going to come out and say that his client should start, that’s a no-brainer. The thing though is why is the team so much more confident in Leftwich? I have been firmly in the corer of letting Dixon start while Ben is on the sidelines for the first four games, but for whatever reason, the team feels better going with Leftwich. We’ll see if it pays off or not.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. shawn

    July 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

    What does he mean, he doesn’t know why leftwich is starting hell he couldn’t even get a win against the raiders last season. I think he only threw maybe 3 passes downfield only one that I can remember was completed but he did not impress me at all. He reminds me of a Kordell Stewart he should be at wide reciever or something not QB. I love the decision to bring in leftwich for Ben’s suspension. Great job. I would hate to sit through another game with Dixon at the helm

    • Ryan

      August 22, 2010 at 2:33 pm

      First of all, that was Baltimore, who has one of the best defenses in the NFL. Secondly, unlike Kordell Stewart, Dennis Dixon is a very capable passer (15-17 for 2 touchdowns this preseason with passer rating of about 130). Finally, the only thing that Byron Leftwich has proved is what a joke he is. He has not had one good season in the NFL and is an erratic passer. Please know your stuff before you make such hasty generalizations.

  2. DrGeorge

    July 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Matt, the reasons are simple: experience and playing style. Like Ben, Leftwich has been a winning starter (lots of NFL experience) and he is a pocket passer (similar QB style). The offense doesn’t change with Leftwich in the game. With Dixon, you sacrifice both at this stage in his career. Dixon still ought to get on the field as a special situations QB. But and the coaching staff has to give the team the best chance to win while Ben is out. Starting Leftwich is the better chance to win.

  3. mark

    July 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Leftwich is the experienced QB. Case closed. He (Leftwich) has shown in the past he can help the Steelers win a few games. Like DrGeorge said above, the game plan does not need to be altered when Byron is the QB. Shawn, I have to say that I disagree with you on your assessment of Dixon though. I thought Dixon brought a nice change/dimension to the offense when he played. I dont understand your Raiders point either, Dixon did NOT play against the Raiders. His start came against the Ravens, in Baltimore and against a very difficult defense. I am not the only fan who thought he played well enough for the team to actually steal an important game against a division rival, on the road. As far as calling him a WR/Kordell Stewart clone, I also fail to see the similarities. Unless its because both are athletic African-Americans? No, I am not calling you anything remotely associated with racism. My point is Dixon was a Heisman candidate before a severe Knee injury cost him a season in college. Dixon was a very good QB in college. Not that Stewart wasnt, but Dixon was better. Sure, they both can run with the ball, but Dixon is the better passer and therefore a better QB. I dont see the Steelers trying to turn Dixon into a WR. EVER. Like DrGeorge said, in situational downs Dixon might be able to make a play with his arm or legs and that is just what an anemic offense might need. This is what Dixon is expected to do while Leftwich starts. Now, If Dixon outplays Leftwich in August, that will change things.

  4. jay

    July 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Does anyone agree with Brian Baldinger that the Steelers offense is depleted and ripped to shambles?!?

  5. mark

    July 23, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Jay, I think Baldinger was a bit extreme in his take on our offense. Mendenhall is solid,Hines ALWAYS produces,Wallace is young, but explosive, Heath Miller is a stud and Ben is Ben. I wonder if he based all of this on losing Santonio Holmes and Willie Colon?

  6. DrGeorge

    July 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Mark, if Dennis Dixon outplays Leftwich in August, the Steelers Nation will be delirious with joy. Any QB who can outplay Leftwich is a pretty solid player. I’m a D. Dixon fan, but his size limits his visibility to see defenders when he passes from the pocket (the interception against the Ravens, for example). In a system where he can roll out to pass (a la Fran Tarkenton), Dixon could be an effective starter. But the Steelers would have to revamp the existing offense to use him as a roll-out QB, and in the present system, he can’t use his attributes to best advantage. That’s why I hope Arians will devise special situation plays to exploit Dixon’s talents on a regular basis. He presents unique problems for defenses with his combination of speed and strong arm and deserves more playing time.

  7. mark

    July 26, 2010 at 9:24 am

    DrGeorge, I agree that if Dixon outplays Byron it would be a problem that the Steelers would be glad to have. I also agree that Dixon should see the field, just not as a WR like Shawn (above) would like. His comparison to Kordell is not as accurate as some fans would like to believe.Sure, roll him out,Qb draw, Option stuff; is a nice change but defenses are wise to these things and they are only effective for so long. A few times in a game is one thing, but to scheme weekly on how to get Dixon 6 throws, 5 runs and 3 or 4 catches is a disaster waiting to happen. Its just my opinion.

  8. DrGeorge

    July 26, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Mark, you may be right that designing plays for Dixon’s talents may turnout badly; but it seems a shame to waste his obvious skills. He ought to be in the game, but not as a WR — I agree with you there completely. Dixon is not Stewart reincarnated. Physically, Dixon would not hold up well to the pounding as a WR. But as a shotgun QB with a package of plays, Dixon would present a double threat, run and pass, that defenses would need to plan and practice to stop. That alone would make the effort worthwhile.

  9. arrow61095

    July 26, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Am I missing something???? Dixon didn’t play against the Raiders. His one game was against the Ravens, and he really didn’t get that much of an opportunity. We didn’t find out that Ben wasn’t going to play until the day before the game, so Dixon got little work with the 1st team offense during the week.

    Arians called a fairly conservative game that leaned heavily on the run game. We lost in overtime to a tough division rivalry.

    Personally, I thought that Dixon performed well for his first game against a tough defense with little preparation.

    That being said, starting Leftwich is better from the “Win now” perspective. Starting Dixon is better for the franchise’s future. If you don’t give him experience, you are always going to argue that he isn’t experienced enough. At the very least, Dixon deserves at least some kind of shot (some reps with the first team).

    What might be good is a situation where Leftwich starts, but Dixon has a certain number of plays that he will run each game or alternating series.

  10. dannyeyoung

    August 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Hope you Leftwitch lovers watched teh game last night….. Dixon is a much better athlete. and i agree with the last comment… not sure where the first comment came from, Dixon never played against the raiders. Leftwitch isn’t the future, given Rothlesburgers track record off feild, they need to look at a sound investment

    • Ryan

      August 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      Kind of funny now that all these idiots are eating their words. 2 great games for Dixon, 2 poor games for Leftwich. And for everyone playing the “experience” card, Dixon has played one game in the NFL and he already looks more composed than Leftwich. But what do I know, I’ve only watched every game Dixon has played since his freshman year at Oregon. And yes, Dennis Dixon is athletic, that doesn’t automatically turn him into Kordell Stewart who wasn’t ever a good college passer in the first place.

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