We’ve certainly seen Ben Roethlisberger evolve on and off the field over his career. From becoming less of a backyard QB to a controlled one in the pocket, to being the unquestioned leader on the field. Part of that leadership is his trust and confidence projected onto his teammates, even during the rough plays and games.
Jesse James touched on that in his sitdown interview with Missi Matthews over on the team website, speaking to how important that’s been for him.
“It keeps your confidence up, the way he can do that,” James told Matthews. “He’ll keep going back to you if you’re open. That’s what makes Ben a great player, a great leader.”
His game against the New York Giants this season serves as a prime example. He dropped a 3rd and 1 pass on the first series of the game, frustrating himself and Roethlisberger. But Ben connected with him for a 16 yard completion on the very next play of the following series. He finished the day with three catches for 32 yards and surely a sign of relief.
“He loves his guys and trusts them and wants them to make the plays. If you have a bad day, he’ll keep coming back to you so you can prove yourself.”
Roethlisberger has certainly been throwing to new faces over the past two years and 2016 was the first without his most trusted target, Heath Miller. That void was filled by James, a second year player who caught just eight passes his rookie year, and Ladarius Green, the Ferrari that collected dust bunnies in the garage for most of the season. Throw in names like Eli Rogers, getting his first crack in the slot, and a revolving door of receivers due to injury – hello Demarcus Ayers and Cobi Hamilton – and it was a challenging year in that regard, to say the least.
James’ role is still unclear going into his third season. If Green is healthy, James is the #2, but there’s no telling if that’ll happen or for how long Green will be able to suit up. Pittsburgh could draft a tight end too, perhaps within the first two days, which would cloud up the depth chart even more. Not that competition is a bad thing.