Should the Pittsburgh Steelers be considered contenders in the AFC in 2020? that was the question asked Monday morning on Good Morning Football on the NFL Network and of the four analysts that attempted to answer it, the reply given by former NFL player Michael Robinson was the most interesting as it included a shot at the leadership of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, among other things.
Robinson first started off his with reply with somewhat of a compliment for Roethlisberger.
“I mean, when you talk about a guy like Ben Roethlisberger, he definitely has the pedigree, he definitely has the experience,” Robinson said. “And when you lose a guy like that, your season can be derailed. And the defense showed last year with a league leading 54 sacks and 38 takeaways that the defense is there.”
Robinson then quickly changed direction.
“But this is my issue with the Pittsburgh Steelers and specifically Ben Roethlisberger, ever since they won the Super Bowl in 2006 and 2009, those Super bowl teams were kind of led by a great run game and a stingy defense. Ben Roethlisberger, I’m not saying he didn’t have to make any plays, but he kind of just had to manage things and not mess things up. Ever since we’ve seen this Pittsburgh Steelers team having to lean on Ben Roethlisberger’s arm to win games consistently, it just hadn’t happened.”
After talking about Roethlisberger’s past successful seasons effectively being a result of him just being a game manager, Robinson then went after the leadership abilities of the Steelers quarterback, or the lack thereof, in his opinion.
“And you heard James Conner talk about his leadership. And sometimes I questioned that with Ben Roethlisberger over the years because of the leadership was truly there, you may still have an Antonio Brown, your number one receiver still there,” Robinson said. “You may still have a Le’Veon Bell, one of the top running backs in the National Football League. You may have those guys still there. So, of course, the addition of Ben Roethlisberger makes this Pittsburgh Steelers team legit. And I thought Mike Tomlin did a great job getting his team to 8-8 last year, but at the end of the day, Ben Roethlisberger, he has to be better when he is healthy.”
That’s a lot to unpack there, but I’ll give it the old college try just the same.
For starters, Robinson effectively not giving Roethlisberger much credit for helping the Steelers to their two Super Bowl championships so far during his career is ludicrous. Sure, Roethlisberger wasn’t great in Super Bowl XL, specifically, but let’s not pretend that he didn’t use his arm well during the team’s playoff run during the 2005-2006 season. In case you or Robinson forgot, Roethlisberger was 49-of-72 (68.1%) passing for 680 yards and 7 touchdowns and one interception during the Steelers playoff run up to Super Bowl XL. Additionally, I guess Robinson slept through the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII win over the Arizona Cardinals and especially the final scoring drive of that contest.
Since those two Super Bowl championships, the Steelers haven’t had near the same kind of defense as they did during those runs and that has led to Roethlisberger needing to win more than just a few games with his arm. Oh, and since 2014, Roethlisberger has had seven 400-plus yard passing games and no other quarterback has more.
As for Robinson’s comments on Roethlisberger’s lack of leadership and specifically him using that as the reason why wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell are both no longer in Pittsburgh, give me a break. I guess Brown currently remains out of football and has played just one NFL game since being traded by the Steelers because Roethlisberger is such a bad leader. Even if Brown had not exploded to close out the 2018 regular season, he would have done so well before now. It’s not a bit surprising that Brown remains out of football. As for Bell, I guess Robinson missed the part about Bell turning down contract offers from the Steelers and him choosing to not play under the franchise tag in 2018. Not sure how Roethlisberger gets blamed for Bell no longer being part of the Steelers. That’s just silly on Robinson’s part.
About the only thing that Robinson said Monday morning about Roethlisberger during his response that was somewhat on point was him saying that the Steelers quarterback needs to play better moving forward when healthy. The only reason that’s partially swallowable is because Roethlisberger threw 16 interceptions during the 2018 season with several of those being bad decisions on his part. Even so, Roethlisberger, and no thanks to the Steelers defense, still wound up throwing for a career high 5,129 yards, 452 completions and 34 touchdowns in 2018.
In totality, Robinson came off as an unprepared buffoon Monday morning when talking about Roethlisberger. It probably won’t be too much longer until the NFL Network parts ways with Robinson as he certainly seems to be mailing it in more and more as of late.
You can watch the full GMFB segment on the Steelers that includes all four analysts giving their thoughts below.