I don’t normally touch anything fantasy with a 10-foot poll, and really I’m not here, even though the video being discussed below is based on fantasy football. But the Rotoworld crew through Pro Football Talk recently walked through the questions around the Pittsburgh Steelers as it concerns the return of Ben Roethlisberger, and I felt like it was summed up well when one of them described it as “a league-altering question”.
Because that’s exactly what it is. With a healthy and Roethlisberger-like Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and they can reasonably compete with the Baltimore Ravens for their own division title. Both teams will be expected to regress to a norm (in Pittsburgh’s case, a positive regression). But if he’s not healthy or not ‘himself’, this is a team that will have to lean on the back of its defense just to hope to sneak its way into the postseason at best, and likely wind up one-and-done unless they have a favorable matchup.
“The team is set up to win now”, they say in the video. “A top defense, the pass rushers, great talent in pass coverage. They continue to invest in pass catchers every single offseason. A good offensive line. But for some reason, they refuse—they absolutely refuse—we saw Jameis Winston go for nothing; Cam Newton go for nothing—to try to improve their backup quarterback spot. So if Ben comes back healthy, like he was in 2018, this team is set up as easily a playoff contender”.
Now heading into his 17th year, Roethlisberger ranks in the top 10 in most of the major career passing categories in NFL history, and he can resume his surge up the ranks in 2020, a process that was put on pause against his will because he missed 14 and a half games thanks to a severe elbow injury brought upon by gradual degradation of the ligaments.
From an outsider’s point of view, it’s really a bit of a fascinating situation, perhaps not terribly unlike Peyton Manning when he returned from neck surgery, an issue that prompted the Indianapolis Colts to release him. He ended up setting records and taking his new team to the Super Bowl twice, winning one, even if he was largely along for the ride for the second time that resulted in the hoisting of a trophy.
We don’t have much to go on. All we have are very short video clips and personal testimonials from himself and from teammates about how he looks and feels throwing the ball. All along the process, since the surgery, everything has been consistently positive.
But as said in the video, especially without a preseason, we simply don’t know what he is going to look like as an NFL quarterback until he starts throwing passes in Week One against the New York Giants. And that’s nerve-wracking for Steelers fans—but also incredibly intriguing.