The Pittsburgh Steelers are an organization known for their stability, but sometimes they might have too much of it, to the point that it descends into stagnation. Perhaps, for example, over time, they have allowed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to grow too comfortable, in the system, in his quarterback room.
Between Mark Whipple, Ken Anderson, and then Randy Fichtner, Roethlisberger hasn’t had to deal with a lot of change over time with his direct position coach, at least until recently. Fichtner was in his ear for a decade, but Matt Canada was hired to take over last year. Now it’s Mike Sullivan, with Canada taking Fichtner’s jot as offensive coordinator.
The hope is that it can only be a good thing, and Sullivan is very experienced, including multiple stints as a coordinator. He spoke to reporters for the first time today since joining the Steelers, and told of his finding a very receptive pupil in the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer.
“With Ben, the thing that makes this so gratifying is that he has this willingness to work, and he wants to do whatever it takes to win”, he said,” so he is open-minded. Obviously, things that he needs, whether it’s from a fundamental standpoint or a drills standpoint, is gonna be different than the other guys. I have to make sure that I really zero in on the specifics that can help him be at his best, whether it’s schematic knowledge, whether it’s as we move into facing opponents, things that the opponent can do, or little things that I can see here or there”.
Sullivan was actually out of coaching a bit, his last post being with the Denver Broncos in 2018, but he has spent the majority of his NFL coaching career with the New York Giants, serving multiple stints as Eli Manning’s quarterbacks coach, and later, offensive coordinator. His journey has taken him to both sides of the ball. He now brings that insight and experience to Pittsburgh in nurturing the final leg of Roethlisberger’s path in the NFL.
“I do him a disservice, I do the organization a disservice, if I don’t do everything possible to provide him that information and try to help him be the best he can be”, he said. “And the good news is he’s been very willing to accept those things and is open-minded, and again, just wants to win”.
That certainly has the ring of a bit of coach-speak, of being the new kid in class and wanting to say the right things, but Roethlisberger has also been saying the right things this offseason. Perhaps that is in part because he doesn’t have an alternative at this point in his career. Perhaps it’s just because he knows the team believes this is for the best for himself and the organization.