There are few relationships in the modern NFL more important than the one that exists between the quarterback and the man calling the plays that the quarterback has to run. When the 2018 season hits, those two individuals will be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and, for the first time, Randy Fichtner, who is replacing Todd Haley as the offensive coordinator.
Fichtner has been with the organization since 2007 and has been the quarterbacks coach working with Roethlisberger since 2010. Asked why the two have been able to build such a close relationship he said, “I think the communication lines are there. That’s hard sometimes. You build it over time. and trust. I think it’s real import, offensively, when you’re talking about timing and things like that”.
He added that there is “an understanding” between the two of them. “You build up time in the emotional bank account with people”. He also cited consistency. “I’ve been a consistency in the [quarterback] room for him. And [him] likewise for me. He’s been in that room as long as I’ve been in that room”.
Fichtner is the second offensive coordinator Roethlisberger will work with who was promoted from being the quarterbacks coach, Bruce Arians being the previous one, and he somewhat infamously had such a close relationship that it seemed to negatively affect the offense, and resulted in the team parting ways.
But the team recently parted ways with Haley seemingly for the opposite reason. The popular narrative has been that the decision was made because of the relationship that he had with Roethlisberger. Some have interpreted comments to suggest that Haley took over too much of the offense, but Fichtner added that Haley was inclusive in game planning.
He also talked about the fact that Roethlisberger is in his mid-30s and possibly working toward the end of his career. He was asked how long he thinks he will get to work with Roethlisberger, who has only promised to return for the 2018 season publicly.
“If he’s having fun, and he’s healthy, and we can have honest dialogue about ‘where are you?’, then I think his decision moving forward will always be based on his ability to help the team win”, he told reporters during a practice session at the Pro Bowl in Orlando.
“He only wants to win. That’s the only thing I know about him. He wants to win football games. All the other stuff doesn’t really matter. So if he’s having fun in an attempt to win those games, and giving us the best chance to win those games, then, man, I hope he plays as long as he wants to play”.
I’m sure that is a sentiment that we all can agree with. While the veteran got off to a bit of a slow start last year, his numbers after the bye week were MVP-caliber, completing 236 of 344 pass attempts for 2658 yards, 23 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He also posted a 6-2 record in that span, and kind of looked like he was having fun.