Ahead of the 2021 NFL Season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a handful of holes on the roster that could prove concerning later in the season due to injuries or poor play, whether that be depth along the offensive line, outside linebacker, or in the secondary.
However, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox believes that the lack of depth at quarterback is the Steelers’ biggest red flag ahead of the start of the season, lamenting the lack of experience and talent behind Ben Roethlisberger, which could derail the Steelers’ season.
Knox writes in his piece labeling a red flag for all 32 teams that the Steelers’ lack of depth behind Roethlisberger is a serious problem, considering the Steelers are relying on Roethlisberger’s health when it comes to competing this season.
“2021 may represent the last hurrah for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. If the Steelers hope to make it a successful one, they’re going to have to keep Big Ben healthy and playing well for the majority of the 17-game season,” Knox writes. “This could prove problematic for a couple of reasons. For one, Roethlisberger is 39 years old and showed signs of decline late last season. He averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt, which is a career low for a full season. The Steelers are also looking at a rebuilt offensive line, one that doesn’t feature longtime starters Maurkice Pouncey and Alejandro Villanueva. On top of that, Pittsburgh is implementing a new offense under coordinator Matt Canada.
“Should Roethlisberger miss extended time or fall off the proverbial cliff this season, the Steelers’ campaign could be sunk. The tandem of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges only delivered eight wins in 2019 despite Pittsburgh boasting the league’s fifth-ranked defense. Rudolph isn’t the answer, Dwayne Haskins has shown next to nothing as a pro, and Joshua Dobbs has just 17 career pass attempts. Pittsburgh’s 2021 season could hinge entirely on Roethlisberger’s battle against the injury bug and Father Time. That should sound the alarm given the way last season came to a close.”
It’s hard to say the Steelers don’t have depth behind Roethlisberger, nor is it fair to say Mason Rudolph isn’t the answer and Dwayne Haskins hasn’t shown anything. Haskins was cut in Washington due to off-the-field transgressions, while former head coach Ron Rivera says he made a mistake when it came to his coaching of Haskins.
As for Rudolph, the guy is 5-5 as a starter and really flashed in the Week 17 loss to the Cleveland Browns on the road last season, a showing that led partially to an extension this offseason with the Steelers.
Though neither has put up eye-popping stats as a starter, they have a combined 22 career starts in the NFL, which is nothing to overlook as depth options.
Nobody is denying that the Steelers’ chances of competing for a seventh Super Bowl trophy hinge on Roethlisberger being healthy, but to say the Steelers don’t have depth behind him is simply incorrect any way you slice it. Those 22 starts between Rudolph and Haskins are 17 more than Landry Jones had in his career, and Jones was considered good depth behind Roethlisberger all those years.
The perception of Rudolph and Haskins has a lot to do with the eye of the beholder, and many can’t seem to shake the picture of Rudolph being struck in the head by his own helmet, or Haskins at a gentlemen’s club last season with no mask on. Depth at the position is perfectly fine for the Steelers ahead of the 2021 season.