With the way that the game of football is played in the NFL today, it is now truer than ever that a team generally only goes as far as its quarterback is able to take them. Now, no quarterback does it all on his own, of course. He needs a good line to protect him, and targets who are on the same page with him and can make the plays that he doesn’t hit on the nose.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger knows better than anybody that he hasn’t been able to take the team very far yet this season, posting just a 1-2-1 record through the first four games of the year. That is in spite of the fact that he leads the league in passing yardage at the moment.
“Obviously, our record is what it is. I hold myself to a higher standard”, the quarterback said this past week after his offense failed to generate a point in the second half of what was a tie game, not even putting up 50 yards.
But he’s not worrying. “It’s no time to hit a panic button and try to change anything. It’s time to get ready for the second quarter of the season”, he said. “I hold myself to a higher standard. It’s a couple misses here and a couple misses there and that’s where I need to be better. I need to make sure I’m putting the ball where guys can make plays”.
Of course he’s been saying similar things for a few weeks now. He talked about his struggles in keeping deep balls inbounds and in spots where his targets can actually make a play on the football. I’m not sure that that has progressed too much since then.
Roethlisberger’s latest test will come against the Atlanta Falcons, who are no better off right now than the Steelers are, sitting at 1-3 following a couple of tough losses. Despite the fact that they have Matt Ryan at quarterback and Julio Jones at wide receiver, it hasn’t been enough to come up with a win percentage better than .250 to date.
Talent has a way of emerging sooner or later, however, and all four players in question are just that. On the field all at the same time, there is always the possibility for a big-time shootout—especially when two wounded defenses are also a part of the equation.
Meanwhile, JuJu Smith-Schuster has become essentially the Steelers’ top target in the interim, and rookie Calvin Ridley is catching all the touchdowns. But evidently both teams only work best when their elite quarterback-wide receiver duo are firing on all cylinders.