Ben Rothelisberger tore his left meniscus in Sunday's loss to the Dolphins. By Monday, Roethlisberger already had surgery to repair the disc. As far as knee injuries go, the meniscus is one of the better knee injuries to suffer. Big Ben, usually a quick healer, only projects to be out two to four weeks.
For the purpose of this article, we'll make the assumption that Roethlisberger is out for three weeks. The good news is the Steelers have a bye in Week 8, giving Ben an extra week of rest.
In the meantime, though, they'll need a quarterback to fill in at home against New England next week and at Baltimore in Week 9. Landry Jones looks to be the favorite to fill the spot considering he replaced Roethlisberger in Sunday's game before Ben returned to finish out the loss.
However, the Steelers picked up Zach Mettenberger in the offseason who would be available as a potential starter in the coming weeks. So who would be the better option to keep the Steelers at the top of the AFC North? The answer:
It doesn't matter much.
Landry Jones would average 22.4 points for the Steelers against a league average defense. Zach Mettenberger would give the offense the smallest of boosts to 22.8 points. From a win percentage standpoint, this difference doesn't matter much. For comparison, Roethlisberger would average nearly 29 points per game.
For example, if we assume Jones is playing Week 7 and Week 9, the Steelers would have a 26.3% chance to beat the Patriots at home and a 29.7% chance to win in Baltimore. Mettenberger gives the Steelers a 27% chance against the Patriots and an identical 29.7% against the Ravens. Roethlisberger starting at quarterback beats the Patriots 40.5% and Ravens 41.2% of the time.
In terms of the AFC North, the drop-off between Jones or Mettenberger and Roethlisberger is only about half of a win on average assuming Roethlisberger is back in Week 10 against the Cowboys . The Steelers are still favored to win the division 57% of the time.
The debate has already heated up in Pittsburgh with those who haven't liked what they've seen in limited time from Landry Jones over the last two years. In 11 total appearances and only two starts, Jones has a tendency to throw the ball deep, averaging 9.2 yards per attempt. Unfortunately, he's completed just 57.1% of his passes and thrown interceptions in more than 7% of his pass attempts.
Mettenberger didn't have the Steelers offensive weapons to use in Tennessee, but he has been more conservative than Jones. He has thrown for 6.8 yards per attempt and completed 60.3% of his passes.
If Jones starts and plays poorly, there will be even more calls to replace him with Mettenberger even though there isn't hardly a difference in just two games. Either way, it is still likely the Steelers win their division and continue into the playoffs with a healthy, dominant offense.