Perhaps the biggest discussion taking place within the Pittsburgh Steelers fan community over the course of the past several days is whether or not this is a team that still has the capability of winning a championship without making drastic changes, with the specific reference point being the play of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
I’m reluctant to even call it a discussion because initial impressions seemed to suggest a universal belief that it’s not possible for Roethlisberger to win another Super Bowl. Perhaps that was emotion-clouded in the aftermath of a humiliating loss in which Roethlisberger threw interceptions—but also four touchdowns and for over 500 yards—but I’m guessing opinions haven’t changed much as cooler heads prevail.
Roethlisberger’s former backup, however, still thinks he can—can, that is, not necessarily will—get it done. When asked if he believes that the Steelers are still able to win a Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger as their quarterback, Bruce Gradkowski told The Fan yesterday, “I think they can”.
“First of all, it’s hard to find the next quarterback. We’ve seen how many teams going through it year in and year out”, he added. “Yeah, maybe Ben didn’t play up to what he can at times, but I do think Ben can get it done. It’s whether Ben wants to or not, where he’s at mentally. I think that’s most important”.
“Can he get it done? Yes, I still think he has something left in the tank”, he continued. “The throws that he can still make—he can still make all the throws”. He then went on to compare and contrast Tom Brady and Drew Brees, noting that Roethlisberger is closer to the former than the latter, with Brees’ arm clearly not being what it was in the past.
Roethlisberger is under contract for one more season, set to earn $19 million in 2021, even though his salary cap hit is technically more than twice that amount in immovable accounting figures from previously-paid signing bonuses due to proration.
Soon to be 39 years old, and having just had his offensive coordinator fired, coming off of a rough and disappointing end of a season, it’s fair to wonder where his head is at, whether he actually retires or not, but if he does return, I have no doubt that it will be with the drive to win.
I’ll probably be crucified for saying this, but I think the Steelers can still win a Super Bowl with Roethlisberger. I’m not saying that they are going to or that it is likely, but I think he’s capable of delivering a championship-level performance, which he did in many stretches this past season. And perhaps some changes around him will be of benefit to him in that regard.