Seemingly thrown in as a random tidbit in a recent article from Bob Labriola, one of the ways in which Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has gotten even more involved in the offense this year has been to actually work directly with the wide receivers in their meeting room to go over tape from games and go into detail about what went right and what went wrong.
Also according to Labriola, this was yet another one of Darryl Drake’s ideas, which new wide receivers coach Ray Sherman is continuing. Truth be told, I don’t know how common a practice it is for a quarterback to formally participate in a wide receivers meeting—of course quarterbacks and wide receivers watch tape together at times—but it feels worth pointing out all the same.
Really, Roethlisberger’s ‘transformation’, so to speak, into somebody who takes more initiative and ownership over the offense and of the team as a whole—there’s that owner’s mentality—started several years ago, and it was observed at the time by beat writers. He was more vocal on the field and more instructive, understanding that his role had changed.
When his was drafted, he walked into a veteran-laden team, even at the wide receiver position with the likes of Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress already there. There was Jerome Bettis, after all, and Alan Faneca, among others. He didn’t need to be the leader then. There wasn’t room for him to be the leader.
But as the roster grew younger and younger, suddenly, it was up to him, and while others will disagree, I think he’s by and large done a good job of filling that role, and has continually gotten better and better at it as well, perhaps reaching the height of his authority during this past offseason.
After all, there’s really nobody else to do it on the offensive side of the ball outside of the offensive line room. Heath Miller is gone. For whatever leadership role he might have ever played, Antonio Brown is gone, and so is Le’Veon Bell. JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner are still young and proving themselves in their current roles.
And especially in the post-Brown offense, it’s all the more important that Roethlisberger make every effort to try to get himself and the wide receivers on the same page, with new faces in the mix. James Washington needs to have a big year. Donte Moncrief is a veteran, but this is his first season in Pittsburgh. Diontae Johnson is a rookie.
That extra time spent in the classroom going over the tape can translate onto the practice field, which can be carried out into stadiums. It feels like a small note, but could potentially have a big impact.