Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tends to have a penchant for the dramatics at times, a tone that we haven’t heard struck as often this year for a number of reasons. For one thing, up until the past week, they have been winning. For another thing, he hasn’t had his weekly radio show anymore, when he was more prone to saying things off the cuff.
Following a second loss in a row in which he played poorly—completing 21 of 37 pass attempts for just 187 yards with two touchdowns to two interceptions, both of them crushing and one of which was returned for a touchdown—he let a bit of that out last night.
The offense as a whole struggled, and the run game was certainly not exception. There were a few drops in the early stages of the game. But by and large, this was about Roethlisberger not playing the game that the Steelers need him to, and he knows it—and so do reporters, who asked him what he can do to regain his form with three games left.
“I hope so”, he said. “If I don’t play good enough football, then I need to hang it up. But, you know, I still feel like I can do enough things to help this team win football games and I’m gonna do everything I can to get us back on track”.
This isn’t quite the remark that it will be blown up to be, truth be told, as has been the case with many of his high-profile comments in the past. If you actually listen to his answer, he was speaking pretty plainly and casually, and certainly not actually insinuating that he believes he may be nearing the end in terms of how far his talent can take him.
But yes, Roethlisberger’s play is now one of the major issues that the Steelers have to try to address, which is becoming a growing list, one that is rather long for a team that is still nine games above .500 and has a spot in the postseason locked up.
The offense has become predicated upon the short, quick passing game. Over the course of the past three weeks, defenses have been doing a much better job of reading those plays and tackling them short. Now, they’re starting to pick the ball off.
That would be fine, in a vacuum, if they could turn to other things, but they don’t have a run game. They don’t have a deep passing game. They don’t have a screen game. If they don’t have their short passing game, then it’s not clear what they will be able to do on offense. The answer, so far, is not much.