Big Lead Sports Bar


Who is Charlie Batch?

Charlie Batch will be the most important man in Pittsburgh for at least the next 24 hours. Based on some of the conversations I heard today on the radio and on the net, I thought we should educate ourselves just a little on Mr. Batch before passing judgment.

Charlie Batch and Howie Mandel: Seperated at Birth?

Charles D'Donte Batch was born December 5, 1974 in our very own Homestead, PA. Yes, the land that now houses Pittsburgh's playground of Dave & Buster's, The Improv, and Loews Theater was also the land that spawned #16.

Following a record-setting career at Eastern Michigan, Batch was the 3rd quarterback drafted in the 1998 NFL Draft, behind only #1 and 2 overall, Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf, and ahead of fellow QBs Matt Hasselbeck and Brian Griese. Believe it or not, he was also selected ahead of Ahman Green, Hines Ward, and Jeremiah Trotter.

Batch actually played in 12 games as a rookie in 1998, and the Lions finished with a 5-11 record under coach Bobby Ross. He completed 57% of his passes, had an 11-to-6 TD/INT ratio, threw for over 2,100 yards, and ran for over 200 more. 1998 was the final year of Barry Sanders' NFL career before he would leave the team high and dry at the running back position in 1999.

In 1999, with Sanders long gone, Batch split time with Gus Frerotte and took the Lions to the playoffs, throwing for a shade under 2,000 yards and compiling a 13-to-7 TD/INT ratio.

In 2000, Batch was once again the full time starter, throwing for roughly 2500 yards. This was a season of turmoil for the Lions, with Ross fired after nine games and replaced by Gary Moeller. His completion percentage fell to 53% and his TD/INT ratio fell to 13-to-15.

We all know Batch signed with the Steelers in 2002, but I'm really interested in that 2001 season. What radio commentators such as Mark Madden (as recently as today) still hang over Batch's head is his 2001 season. In '01, the Lions handed the keys to the franchise to possibly the worst GM in NFL history, Matt Millen, who hired possibly the worst coach in NFL history, Marty Mornhinweg. Morhninweg is most remembered for his 5-27 career record, his driving to practice on a Harley, and for electing to kick off in overtime in 2002 vs. the Bears. Predictably, the Bears took the kickoff, rolled right down the field, and set up Paul Edinger for a game-winning field goal.
The Face of Losing

With a management team like Millen and Mornhinweg, the Lions were a team destined for failure. Let's check out the team Batch was surrounded by:

Running back: The Lions had Ruben Droughns on the roster, who ran for 1,200+ yards last year with Cleveland, of all teams. But since these are the Lions, they gave Droughns a grand total of 30 carries in 2001. The bulk of the load went to James Stewart, who responded with 685 yards rushing for the season. Great way to ID that talent, Marty.

Wide receiver: Johnnie Morton was their top threat, and while he was a decent receiver, he was never confused for a gamebreaker. Herman Moore contributed the final four catches of his career; Germane Crowell added his usual five games before getting injured; Desmond Howard's presence, but not his play, reminded Michigan fans that he used to be good; and Bert Emanuel wished he was still in Atlanta catching passes from Jeff George. Basically, they had crap at the receiver position, hence the three consecutive first-round picks that were to follow beginning in 2002.

O-Line: Dominic Raiola at center, Brenden Stai and Tony Semple as the guards (both one year away from washing out of the league), Jeff Backus and Matt Joyce as the tackles. Ever wonder why Barry Sanders retired early? Would YOU want to run behind this line?

Tight end: David Sloan, Bradford Banta, John Waerig, Pete Mitchell. Not exactly Mark Bavaro, Jay Novacek, Kellen Winslow and Antonio Gates.

Defense: Robert Porcher played at a Pro Bowl level, and they had some other low-grade defensive stalwarts such as Luther Elliss, Stephen Boyd, a young Shaun Rogers. They gave up 27 points a game...what else is there to say?
The 2001 Lions Defense team photo

I'm not saying Batch will be great, I'm not saying the Steelers won't miss Ben (they will)...but I don't think it's fair to Batch to compare the 2001 Detroit situation to the 2006 Pittsburgh team. The Steelers have a game-breaking running back, one of the league's top offensive lines, a four-time Pro Bowl WR, an emerging threat at tight end, and quite possibly the NFL's most tenacious defense, with playmakers like Polamalu, Porter, Taylor, and Farrior. They also have arguably the best coaching staff in the NFL, led by a man worlds away from Marty Mornhinweg.

If Batch were to QB this team all season, I think they would win 8-9 games. With Ben, the sky is the limit, but I would think 11-12 this year, all things considered.

Last year, Homestead Charlie was 2-0 as the starter for the Black & Gold. He was classified under the category of "Game Manager", which is the media's way of saying "Can't Win a Game by Himself". He threw for 215 yards, no TDs, and one pick in two full games. But most importantly, the record was 2-0. Yes, those wins came against 4-12 Green Bay and 6-10 Cleveland, but at least they were wins.

"Turnover Tommy" Maddox compiled an 0-2 mark, 2-to-4 TD/INT ratio, and plenty of new enemies in his performances against the Jaguars and Ravens. Yet the "Game Manager" tag avoided Maddox, even though he can't win a game by himself. Why? Because he proved he CAN lose a game by himself. His interceptions were absolutely crucial last year. And his lack of accountability burned his bridge with Mr. Bill. Given the choice between the two, I'd rather have Batch run the offense than Maddox.

So good luck to you, Chuck. You'll need it against a tenacious Dolphins defense coached by a Bill Belichick wanna-be. Go Steelers!

Words of wisdom: Play well, Charlie, or else these people will be at your place on Friday


Anonymous said...

Chaz had at least one TD pass last year, to Quincy Morgan in Cleveland. Excellent site, BTW.

Anonymous said...

Batch is the perfect backup for the Steelers.

He will play smart and let the defense, Willie Parker and the Oline win the game for the Steelers.

mondesishouse said...

Batch did throw a TD in a week 16 vs. Cleveland, but that was the only pass he threw in that game. I was only referring to the games in which he started - week 9 vs GB and week 10 vs the Browns. Thanks for the kind words!

Anonymous said...

This is awesome!!!

SAMO said...

Mondesi, are you scared about Batch having to play this week?

mondesishouse said...

I'm not thrilled with Batch having to start, as Ben is a tremendous loss. But do I think they could win tonight with Charlie? Absolutely.

Batch has a lot on his shoulders. I think Miami could stack the line and make him beat them through the air. It certainly helps that #86 is healthy tonight. Also, I would love to see some screens to Willie to get him in the open field. And I think they really need to integrate Heath Miller into the game plan.

I think the Steelers D could really disrupt Culpepper and slow Ronnie Brown. I think Ike will give up a few catches to Chambers but hold his own.

It's going to be a tough opener, no doubt.

Steelers, 17-13.

vinnie said...

Think back to Charlie's start against Cleveland. I was very disappointed when he broke his finger towards the end of the second quarter because he was on his way to finally showing Steeler fans what he can do. Also think back a couple of weeks to the preseason game against the Cards; do you remeber that TD pass he threw? The guy's still got a cannon -- just like he had in Detroit.

Back when we were in the dark days of the Kordell era, my wife saw some of Charlie's highlights from a Lions game and asked, "Why can't we (the Steelers) have a QB who can throw like that?" And that was BEFORE she found out he's from Da Burgh!

Charlie-Charlie-Charlie (come on, join in)...

Unknown said...

The Steelers will beat Miami with Batch at QB. What concerns me more than having Charlie at QB is how little the starters have played during the exhibition season. Continuity may be a problem, sucking wind in the fourth quarter could be a bigger problem. Steelers will win it 20-7