Devil’s Advocate: Big Ben Stays Standing

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Will Ben Roethlisberger stay healthy throughout the 2017 season?

This is, ultimately, the most important question of the 2017 season. Quite simply, are the Steelers going to have Ben Roethlisberger there for the full ride? Because if not, they could be in trouble. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time he misses and the likelihood of them winning the Super Bowl.

There are reasons for optimism. For one thing, the offensive line is verging on the exceptional at this point, and if they pick up where they left off at the end of last season, they will be arguably the best unit in the game all around, but perhaps especially in pass protection.

Having a really good offensive line is obviously going to go a long way. But so it having a complete arsenal of weapons, particularly safety valves, for when plays break down. He should have unfettered access to Le’Veon Bell this year and another year working with Jesse James. He will, quite frankly, have his choice of slot receivers.

So they have, at least, the personnel around Roethlisberger that will allow him to minimize his risk of injury. But as we have seen in recent years, sometimes it just doesn’t matter how well you protect a quarterback. He can still get hurt on one freak play.

That is what happened to him in each of the past two seasons. Derek Carr was sacked less than anybody who started every game last year and he suffered a serious injury at the end of the regular season.

Perhaps with Roethlisberger drawing closer and closer to the end, he will more frequently skew toward the side of caution, checking more balls down or even throwing them away when he is under duress. This is something that he began to do more recently, but he has moved away from this some.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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