Monday, August 29, 2011

Charlie: The Best of the Batch

     Charles D'Donte Batch was born on December 5th, 1974 in Homestead. Pa. The son of Lynn Settles - her pride and joy. Charlie, as he's commonly known, was age seven he started playing Midget Football. He'd eventually take those moves to Steel Valley High School where he lettered three times in football as well as twice in basketball. He was even an All-State third-team and Pittsburgh Press "Fabulous 22" pick as a senior in 1991. Simply put, he had become a well-known athlete in Western Pennsylvania sports. Nothing has changed.
     Charlie Batch has been with the Steelers' organization since 2002 where he was reunited with current Steelers GM, Kevin Colbert. He has served as the Steelers 2nd or 3rd string quarterback since that time and has a 4-2 record when starting. He is currently in battle again for the Steelers back-up role, this time with Dennis Dixon.
     Dennis Dixon was always a highly desired player. Cincinnati wanted him and Atlanta worked hard to get him into their fold. He was highly sought after and many wanted him coming out of Oregon. For baseball.
     Dennis Dixon had a promising career in baseball as he was initially drafted in the 20th round of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft. But Dixon opted to grayshirt (attend school part-time and retain eligibility) for the 2003 season and played his freshman season in 2004. Then following his junior year at Oregon, Dixon was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft. Dixon felt that his first love was football and, after stints with two Atlanta Braves rookie league teams, returned to Oregon for his senior football season in 2007. The next year Dixon was taken in the 5th round (156th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers and it was speculated that he could be used in the manner that the Steelers used  Kordell Stewart or Antwaan Randle-El, a college quarterback turned NFL receiver.
     Fast forward four years and there is no sign of baseball as Dixon decided that football was the game of choice, but there is no sign of multiple positions being played either. Instead Dixon is only playing quarterback and he has a chance to the no. 2 ahead of Charlie Batch. But he shouldn't be.
     The more I watch of Dixon and the more I think about it in general, I just don't think he'll ever be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. Sure, he has talent and potential. But talent can be wasted and potential can be a dirty word. Dixon simply doesn't come off as having the needed tools to succeed in the NFL. There are several reasons for this as well. Dixon has the tendency to rely too much on his natural ability instead of learning how to go through his checks. So, instead of going through the full progression, he'll check down one, then check down the second and then he looks lost. His career numbers bear this out as he has only completed 59% of his passes and only has one touchdown against two interceptions.
     His instincts leave a lot ot be desired also. Being able to feel the rush is essential for any good quarterback, a quality he just doesn't seem to have. Despite his seemingly having those skills in college, they obviously didn't graduate wiht him. Throwing short when under duress, moving out of the pocket too late to avoid a sack, moving too late to be able throw the ball away, and not knowing where he is on the field causing him to throw the ball after he's passed the line of scrimmage are all qualities an effective-to-elite QB has to know to be successful. Qualities he simply doesn't have.
     His scrambling/running ability haven't saved him either. Though known for such skills at Oregon, we've only seen a glimpse of it while he's been in the league: November 29, 2009 against the rival Baltimore Ravens when he ran for 27 yards on three carries, including a 24 yard touchdown naked bootleg run. Other than that there hasn't been much there either. Dixon simply hasn't seemed to produce as had been expected by myself and many others.
     That leaves Charlie Batch to be the back-up in the Steel City, a role with which I do believe Batch is familiar. It's a role that Batch held a few times over the years since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2002, and one he should hold again this year.
     Now, don't get me wrong, I understand that Dennis Dixon is younger, faster and possibly stronger than Batch at this stage in their careers, but what Batch has in the way of experience and familiarity with the system speaks more loudly. He has a winning record as a back-up for a reason and even opened up a previously stagnant offense under Dixon last year at Tampa Bay, and almost pulled out the game against the Ravens.
     But there's another reason why Charlie Batch should be the no. 2 quarterback. It's the reason that was delineated at the beginning of this article: Batch is beloved in the community. It's not only for his play over the years, either, but because of his giving back to the community. His organization "Best of the Batch." and "Project C.H.U.C.K."-an annual youth basketball league in Homestead-are fixtures in the area and part of what make him a beloved figure.
     Batch established his Best of the Batch Foundation in 2000 primarily to serve underprivileged youth in the Pittsburgh area. Charlie proudly takes a very active hands-on role in this not for profit organization.
     As was mentioned at the beginning of the artcle, Batch is from the area and now regularly visits the schools in the Steel Valley School District and around the city of Pittsburgh to speak to the students of all grades. He also attends functions presented by the community, and is always in attendance for the events that Best of the Batch organizes. Plain and simple, he is an intregal part of the team and also the city.
     Don't take my word for it, though. You can see and read all about him and his organization at the links provided below:
     Whether, then, it could be considered for the sake of the team, for the sake of the city or for the sake of Batch himself, he should be the no. 2 QB behind Roethlisberger. He's a veteran with savvy and experience enough to carry the team for a short period, if needed. He has an established rapport Roethlisberger as it is. Also he's familiar with the need to stay physically and mentally sharp enough to be called upon to go in at a moment's notice. He's been there and he knows what it takes. In more ways than one, he's simply the best of the batch.