The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: What would a strong performance from Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday mean for the season?
It almost seems as though there is too much pessimism in the air to even ask this question, but I have to wonder anyway. Through five games, the execution at the quarterback position has been lacking, on the whole. But if Ben Roethlisberger comes out on Sunday and plays really well, what exactly can we draw from that?
This is a much more appealing question to ponder than the opposite—what would another poor performance tell us—but it won’t be easy. The Steelers’ next opponent is the Chiefs, who have both quality edge rushers and quality cornerbacks. The protection off the edge has not been up to par so far this year, and, well…Roethlisberger has been underwhelming.
Not that the season started off terribly, by any means. He had four touchdown passes to one interception through the first two games of the season, and the Steelers were 2-0, and nobody was saying that he had already retired in his mind at the time.
But taken as a whole, it’s indefensible to suggest anything other than the reality that Roethlisberger has been playing at a sub-par level, or at least sub-par by the necessary standards of a championship team.
But that is all so far.
What if, five days from now, he plays a really good game, something like that Dallas game from a year ago, which, had the defense not spoiled the show at the end, should have resulted in an impressive comeback victory?
Could we just wash our hands of the whole affair at that point and say that the reports of his demise were premature? If he shows that he can make all the throws, can execute in the red zone, can hit on his third or fourth read—will that be a sufficient answer?