Ben Roethlisberger has taken plenty of heat for his comments about James Washington and his drop in Sunday’s loss to Denver. Roethlisberger defended what he said speaking to the media today, believing his resume and veteran status has given him the right to be critical of those around him.
“I think that I have earned the right to be able to do that as long as I’ve been here,” he told reporters via the team website. “And I’ll be just as critical of myself as well in front of you guys.”
Speaking on his radio show Tuesday, Roethlisberger was candid about Washington’s miscue and how he needs to make those plays going forward.
“He has to make it [the catch],” he said yesterday. “He needs to just have the trust and confidence in himself and he needs to bounce back. Right? We need him to bounce back and make some plays this week for us.”
Some fans and media personalities have felt it to be too much of a “shot” at the rookie. Roethlisberger said he thoughtfully makes those types of criticism and uses it as a motivational tool, not criticism just for the sake of criticism.
“Being around for a long time, dealing with a lot of different players. You have to know how to motivate different guys in different ways. I think that’s part of being a leader, being a captain. Just understanding players. Sometimes you just grab them off to the side, sometimes you have to be honest with them.”
That’s a point that’s being missed by many. His comments served a purpose. Just in the way Mike Tomlin has admitted he uses his press conferences to talk to his team more than it is talking to the media, Roethlisberger’s interviews are similar. And he’s choosing to go with a “tough love” option for Washington. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t. But Roethlisberger probably has a better sense for the right approach than anyone else.
He was later asked if he thought teammates wouldn’t appreciate those kind of comments. Roethlisberger said he didn’t think it was an issue but couldn’t speak for anyone else.
“I would hope they understand as the quarterback and the captain I have the right to do those things. I feel like I don’t abuse that situation. So I don’t think it’s an issue but you’ll have to ask them.”
For now, Washington will have to try and hold onto his gameday helmet, staying above Justin Hunter for the final wide receiver spot. Even if he does that, he figures to see his playing time greatly diminished as Ryan Switzer has emerged as the Steelers’ #3 option.