Jun 26, 2007
It’s something of a moot point because I don’t think anyone will draft him as their starter, and I do think he’s a solid backup, but I’m in the minority when I say I think Ben Roethlisberger has a lot to prove this year. Yes, he had the terrible motorcycle accident, an emergency appendectomy, and suffered a concussion. But his horrible interception number – 23 – speaks for itself in terms of how poorly he played most of the time last year. The guy had 9 picks the year before.
There were times last year when he was simply out of control. When he gets out of the pocket, he tends to get frenetic and he doesn’t seem to see the field and process information well enough. He’s also not a look-down-the-barrel guy like Carson Palmer, and he caves a little bit in the face of pressure and when bodies are around him. It’s hard to say too many bad things about Roethlisberger, but as I’ve said in the past, I don’t think he’ll ever be an elite passer.
Now here’s the interesting dilemma. The Steelers want to put three and four wideouts on the field a lot this year and spread defenses out. It’s the same scheme Bruce Arians ran in Cleveland back when Kelly Holcomb had a few big games.
But Roethlisberger needs to be part of an offense in which the running game is the foundation and he’s just a (albeit key) puzzle piece. Maybe he doesn’t have to be just a protector, but this is not a guy I’d want running a wide-open offense, either. You probably don’t want to put the ball in his hands. He can make all the throws, but he’s kind of slow in the pocket, and I think you can legitimately question his ability to quickly scan the field and make the proper decisions consistently, so I’m confused why the team wants to seemingly give Roethlisberger the joystick of this new offense. They would have been better off running the same system they’ve run for years in Pittsburgh.
Here’s where I’m going to throw something out there that probably won’t please the Steeler and Ben Roethlisberger fans out there.
You may have heard about the various disagreements he had with former coach Bill Cowher. I don’t have specifics on every beef Cowher had with him or he had with Cowher, but I can share with you the crux of Cowher’s bone of contention with Big Ben. The fact is Roethlisberger is not known as being an ideal team player. He’s obviously a player who’s an asset to his team, and his work ethic and desire aren’t in question. But he’s had some issues in terms of accepting the coaching he receives. He has a tendency to do whatever he wants on the field at times, and that’s rarely a good thing in professional sports. You can certainly consider his motorcycle escapades as an example of Roethlisberger not exactly making the right decision and doing what he’s supposed to do considering the position he’s in.
If he had these types of issues with “The Chin” I can certainly see this being an issue with Mike Tomlin, a first-year coach still in only his mid-30s.
I’m not saying he will fail this year, and as I said I think he’s a decent backup, but what I am saying is that if he doesn’t take the big step forward (after taking some back last year) that many are expecting, the factors I have outlined above will probably be why.