The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?
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: How much influence will Ben Roethlisberger have on the offense, for example, in how often the no-huddle is run?
When the Steelers moved on from Todd Haley and elected to promote quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner to the offensive coordinator role, it was largely seen as a move of deference to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, signaling that he would have a primary influence over how things would be run.
Given that he would go on that season to throw for among the most passes in NFL history, not to mention among the most yards, it’s not unreasonable to make that assumption. Roethlisberger also was among the league leaders in pass attempts per game in 2020.
Now with Matt Canada promoted to offensive coordinator and Fichtner off the staff, how will things differ? Roethlisberger obviously does not have a deep history with Canada, who has only been in the NFL for one season, and has been a journeyman coach even at the college level.
But he is still the franchise quarterback, and the central focal point of the offense, no matter how much they try to commit to improving the running game this offseason. Obviously Roethlisberger is going to have a significant influence on the offense, as any starting quarterback should, but to what extent will it vary relative to his input on Fichtner’s offense?