Ordinarily, when you’re talking about players widening their perspectives and seeing the ‘bigger picture’, you’re talking about pretty much anybody but the quarterback. That is the position that, by its nature, has to have a wider perspective, because they have the interact so directly with all of the other pieces, at least on the offensive side of the ball.
Still, when you’re a quarterback and you suddenly have to watch on the sidelines rather than taking every snap of every game, it does provide an opportunity that you ordinarily don’t have—and it’s perhaps one of the reasons that most quarterbacks who become successful coaches have been backups.
“When you talk about from the sideline, having the headset on, hearing the communication from the coaches, hearing communication from players, when you’re playing, when you’re on the field”, Ben Roethlisberger told reporters, it adds a new perspective. “When you come off to the sideline, you only have so much time really to communicate with receivers, running backs, linemen, things like that. And then look at the pictures and all the things that go into in between series”.
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, obviously, spent most of the 2019 season watching from the sidelines, which he has almost never done. He had to come in due to injury in his second game of his career. But he missed 14 games last year after tearing three tendons in his throwing elbow.
“Last year, I was actually able to watch more, because I could watch kind of the big picture, if you will”, he said. “And then I was able to speak to more guys on the sideline and talk to them and communicate what I saw, [ask them] what did they see? So I think it was beneficial”.
He actually likened it to his high school experience, as his head coach tried to explain to him how his experience of playing the wide receiver position during his junior year would be an asset to him playing quarterback.
“I never understood it at the time, but I think it does to a certain extent, because you can see the other side of it”, he said. “I was able to kind of see the bigger picture of just being a quarterback from being on the sideline last year”.
I’m hoping that we won’t be seeing Roethlisberger running any routes this year—though they did experiment with the Wildcat again during the 2019 season—but what can we really expect from him at this point in his career in terms of mental growth?
Earlier, before answering seriously when asked about what he learned from watching last season, he said, “I learned that I don’t want to watch anymore”. That is the type of player he has always been. That’s the type of player they’ve needed him to be. Can he be even better this year, now healthier than he may have been in years, and with the perspective of an observer fresh in his mind?