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 is still capable of winning a Super Bowl on a more balanced offense.
Explanation: Since the Steelers’ postseason loss, the debate has become whether or not Ben Roethlisberger even had it in him any more to be able to win a Super Bowl. In the immediate aftermath of the game, many fans seem to believe he can’t. A more balanced offense that includes a more effective running game, however, could take a lot of responsibility off of his plate.
Ben Roethlisberger led the NFL in pass attempts per game, and that wasn’t really by design. They had to keep turning to that over and over again throughout the season because the ground game was simply offering them nothing, and it was the no-huddle offense that seemed to be most effective, which for much of the season included 01 personnel with no running back on the field.
Any offense would look much different with more balance. Even some of the most explosive and dynamic passing offenses of today, such as the Packers, the Seahawks, and the Chiefs, have an effective running game.
If they can actually run the ball even moderately well, to the point where they don’t get thrust into situations in which they feel like they have to abandon it entirely, we’re really having a completely different discussion.
This isn’t about balance. It’s about what happens when Roethlisberger drops back to pass, and in 2020, what happened wasn’t good enough. He has lost too much mobility and downfield touch at this point. When he tries to force the ball down the field, he puts it in harm’s way, which is why his turnover numbers picked up in the second half of the season.
The odds of the Steelers finding a better quarterback this offseason are virtually zero, but that doesn’t mean that Roethlisberger can still win a Super Bowl without a legitimately dominant running game, which is not going to happen, and a complementary splash-play defense, which he does have—usually, except in the postseason.