Former Steelers QB Touted as ‘Better’ Than Josh Allen Retires at 26

Duck Hodges

Getty Duck Hodges tries to evade pressure in a game against the Buffalo Bills.

The Devlin “Duck” Hodges vs. Josh Allen debate is settled once and for all.

Buffalo Bills fans rallied around their quarterback in 2019 after the analysis outlet Pro Football Focus declared that Hodges was the better of the two signal-callers. Many fans held onto the grudge through that season as Allen led the Bills back into the playoffs — beating Hodges in a Sunday Night Football game along the way — and into the next season, when Allen blossomed into an MVP candidate.

Now, the question of supremacy between the two appears to be closed forever.

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Hodges Calls It Quits

After a short stint with the Steelers and some time in the Canadian Football League, the 26-year-old Hodges announced this week that he was retiring from professional football. His announcement was listed on a team page for the Ottawa Redblacks.

“I’d like to thank the REDBLACKS for bringing me to Ottawa and giving me this opportunity. I have gained a lot of respect for the CFL and its fans – particularly RNation! I’m excited to see what the future holds but I know that the next chapter in my life is going to be fun,” he wrote, signing it just “Duck.”

As CBS Sports noted, Hodges had a quick and unlikely rise to fame in 2019 when he took over starting duties for the Steelers after injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph. The Steelers were 1-4 when he was first pressed into duty, and Hodges led them to an upset of the Chargers. He returned again in Week 12, leading a come-from-behind win against the Bengals.

After leading the team to wins over the Browns and Cardinals, Hodges had the Steelers at 8-5 going into a Sunday Night Football game against the Bills. In a preview for the game, PFF made a now-infamous statement — declaring that Hodges was a better quarterback than Allen.

The analysis would be proven wrong before the end of the game. While Allen didn’t exactly torch the Steelers — completing 13 of 25 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown and an interception — Hodges struggled against an opportunistic Bills defense. The threw four interceptions, and after the game was benched in favor of Rudolph.

PFF Skeptical of Allen

Analysts from PFF had been skeptical of Allen as he made the jump from Wyoming to the NFL, noting that he had a boom-or-bust potential. In a story grading the Bills’ 2018 draft as “average,” Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo noted that Allen was near the bottom in some college prospect rankings.

“Allen has a cannon for an arm, combined with the size and athleticism to make spectacular plays outside the pocket, but he comes with big question marks in key areas, namely his accuracy and decision-making,” they wrote. “He’s ranked among the nation’s worst in negatively-graded throws over the last two years and he finished 29th out of 38 quarterbacks in the draft class at avoiding turnover-worthy throws last season.”

But the outlet, and Monson in particular, changed their tune as Allen worked through those struggles during his first two seasons. Allen’s near-perfect performance against the New England Patriots in a 47-17 playoff rout earned him the outlet’s top grade, and Monson praised Allen for his ability to lead the Bills to victory.

“What has become a defining characteristic of this Bills offense is that the entire thing rests on the quarterback’s shoulders,” he wrote. “They are now paying him big money, and they are doing so because he is the catalyst for everything they do on offense. When they need a big play, it’s Allen that makes it happen, whether it’s with his arm or with his legs in the running game.”

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