Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken a lot of criticism not just in recent weeks, but over the course of the past year, for a number of public comments that he has made, going back to soon after the 2018 NFL Draft when he publicly questioned the team’s decision to draft Mason Rudolph after having added Joshua Dobbs the year before.
One of the harshest criticisms, however, had been one cited by some of his former teammates and targets, with those such as Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders questioning his leadership—and frankly, I suppose that is essentially what Antonio Brown has been doing as well.
Ryan Switzer has had a different experience with the 36-year-old quarterback, as the second-year wide receiver found himself going over tape on the sideline with Roethlisberger during the Steelers’ final preseason game literally just days after he had been acquired via trade.
“Ben jump-started my career”, he recently said of the quarterback. “On the sidelines of that preseason game, he sat with me going through film on the iPad. He knew me what, two days. But just off the bat – to do that made me feel good”, he said.
Switzer began seeing snaps on offense immediately, getting a couple of plays in the season opener, and was even targeted on the opening drive, though he dropped it. He began receiving a regular role as the season progressed, and you can guess that Roethlisberger’s comfort level in him was a major factor in his ability to get on the field.
Roethlisberger had been highly complimentary of Switzer throughout the season, in fact, and at one point called him a “tough little bugger” later in the year after he made a difficult catch and took a hard hit, getting right back up. Switzer, well on the shorter end of the spectrum, has displayed a level of physicality beyond what a player of his frame would suggest.
The third-year wide receiver also made a note to say that Roethlisberger reached out to him, obtaining his cell phone number, after his wife got into a minor accident, which he considered a significant gesture.
“I’m not saying he took me under his wing, but he did a lot of good”, Switzer said of the 15-year veteran quarterback. “I owe him for not throwing me by the [wayside]. He gave me a chance to earn his trust”.
Roethlisberger is caricatured as something of an oaf, a large man who can throw a football but doesn’t put much effort into it. There is a perception that he does the bare minimum required of him, which includes the time that he puts in working with his targets. Perhaps that was more the case when he was playing with Ward and Sanders, but they have to understand that Roethlisberger is in a different place, in a different role, on this current Steelers team.