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2020 South Side Questions: Is Ben Roethlisberger Now Steelers’ Biggest Problem?

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Is Ben Roethlisberger now the Steelers’ biggest problem?

After Monday night’s game, it’s a question that we have to ask. Certainly, this is a team with more than a few issues, some more significant than others. But if you’re not getting the quality of play from the quarterback position that you need, then it almost doesn’t matter how good everything else is.

And the way Ben Roethlisberger played against the Cincinnati Bengals, especially in the first half, was below the line, to be generous. It was almost impossible for him to connect on a pass 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, completing as many such passes to his own teammates as to his opponents.

Regardless of circumstance, the Steelers continue to put the ball in the air 35-45 times a game, so they can’t have a substandard level of play from the quarterback position. With defenses having adjusted from and taken away the short passing game, by and large, he has to adapt or die at this point.

Defenses have been daring him to attempt deeper passes for the past several weeks. He has been unable to. Sometimes it has been drops (though not this time). Sometimes it has been pass protection (but he hasn’t shown the ability to extend plays often enough, either). Sometimes it’s just bad passes, or bad decisions, throwing to the wrong man.

The Steelers must hope that Monday night was the bottom of the barrel, because they’re not winning any games from this point on with Roethlisberger playing that poorly.

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