Everybody who follows the game knows just how important a franchise quarterback is to a team’s chances of winning a championship. You can look back at the history of Super Bowl winners, and you can count the number of quarterbacks who are now in the Hall of Fame with their championship rings.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were fortunate to have two of them, and while the defense was the nucleus of the 70s dynasty—and to a lesser extent the dynasty of the 2000s as well—it wasn’t until they got rolling with Terry Bradshaw that they really took off, and especially in the later years of that era, the focus turned to the offense.
The same thing has happened in Pittsburgh once again. While the Steelers fielded some excellent defenses and strong teams in the intervening years, particularly in the mid-90s, it wasn’t until they drafted Ben Roethlisberger that they got back over the championship hump, and they have won two more championships and competed for another since then.
Perhaps now more than ever, their Super Bowl aspirations rest on his shoulders today, but Roethlisberger’s offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, certainly believes that he is capable of leading this team to a championship, as he indicated while talking with the Talk of Fame Network. In fact, according to the veteran coach, who has been all around the league, Roethlisberger is, in his words, “as good as anybody I’ve ever seen”.
Haley was the offensive coordinator of the Cardinals team that Kurt Warner led to the Super Bowl. He would have had a ring, too, with an impressive late game-winning drive, if not for Roethlisberger himself, and marshalled one of the great drives, and authored one of the great plays, in Super Bowl history to claim the franchise’s sixth Lombardi Trophy, the most of any team in the league.
Haley talked about working with Warner, and called him “one of the best there is”. There are many who believe he will be in the next class of the Hall of Fame. But, he said, Roethlisberger “is just special, and he’s really evolved as a quarterback”.
That may be a subtle reference, in fact, to his own impact on Roethlisberger’s career arc over the course of the past five seasons since he took over the offensive coordinator job, and he said that the quarterback “takes great pride in” his maturation.
He’s always been known for being able to extend the play and make those ‘Ben-like plays.’ But I think he takes great pride now in being a dropback passer who gets back, gets the ball out and make great decisions. As good a thrower as I’ve ever seen. Strong arm but phenomenal touch and feel, and when things break down he’s able to make those ‘Ben plays’ that separate him from everybody.
“When you have a [franchise quarterback]”, Haley said, “it’s something special, and Ben is something special”. It is worth keeping that in perspective when contemplating what the post-Roethlisberger Steelers might look like.