The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Ben Roethlisberger’s knee is hindering his performance.
Explanation: While we cannot know the extent to which the late report before the last game that Ben Roethlisberger is dealing with a worrying injury is exaggerated, we do know that Roethlisberger did suffer an injury in recent weeks, and showed up on the injury report with it. We also know that there have been times in which he has favored the knee—yet other times where he was able to display mobility that belies the injury.
Your knee is a pretty important element of your throwing mechanics, and if you can’t lean into your throw, you’re not going to deliver the ball that you want, consistently, with the sort of velocity and accuracy that you intend.
You can just watch him when he plays and you notice moments where he seems to be favoring the knee, not just between plays, but during plays. At other times, yes, he plays as though his knee is perfectly fine, when he has to, but that doesn’t mean it’s a non-issue.
Roethlisberger is not about to run a ton of bootlegs and roll out of the pocket and get out on the move, but his stationary and repetitive passing approach has become too predictable, to the point that defenses are exploiting that predictability. That’s why he also leads the league in batted passes—a couple of which have been intercepted.
Roethlisberger’s performance may be suffering, but it’s not because of his knee. For starters, he can say whatever he wants, but he has to have lost confidence in some of his top targets, who are putting the ball on the ground. Even rookie Chase Claypool has been significantly less reliable than he was at the start of the season.
Importantly, he has never gotten the deep ball going at any point this season. In years past, it would take him time over the course of the year to begin connecting on them at a higher volume. While he has gotten some pass interference calls, he hasn’t connected much downfield, including before his knee injury.