The Pittsburgh Steelers at this point of the season were 3-1 after four games. Right now they are sitting at 1-2-1. While the results have been different, however, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger does not think that the quality of play has been substantially different, and I think he’s right, particularly with regards to the offensive side of the ball.
“We have been 0-4 before”, he said while addressing the media yesterday, referring to the 2013 season. “Last year we started a little sloppy too. You guys can look at the record all you want. We’re not. We’re looking at this next week and trying to get a win. That is all that matters. If this has to happen, it’s better to happen early in the season than middle or late in the season”.
The Steelers narrowly defeated the Cleveland Browns in the season opener last year on a margin that was produced not by the offense but by a special teams touchdown on a blocked punt that opened the game. The offense did not play well at all in that game, nor in the several games to follow.
It is of course better for struggles to happen earlier in the season than later, as you want to head into the postseason playing your best football. Generally, the Steelers have managed to overcome slow starts to become among the hottest teams in the league by the time January football rolls around, going on extended winning streaks late in each of the past two seasons.
Understandably, Roethlisberger has continued to shoulder all or most of the blame for the Steelers’ inability to record a victory in three of their first four games. “You have to bounce back when you have a bad day”, he said again. “Get here a little early today and be ready to go”.
Roethlisberger played much better in the second half of the season a year ago than he did in the first, validating the notion that he can still improve by the end of this year. Over the last seven games (he did not play in the season finale), he completed 192 of 286 passes for 2189 yards and 18 touchdowns to five interceptions. He threw for 469 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception in the postseason loss as well.
That is the sort of level of play that the Steelers need from him in order for them to get anywhere this year, and what they’re not getting from him, but at the end of the day, they only need to score more points than their opponent, whether that’s five points or 55.
“We take the approach that we want to score as many points as possible”, he said. “We take these losses on us as an offense. Me as a leader of the offense, I take it on myself that we haven’t done enough to score points to win games. Offensively we need to be better and will be better”.