I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you are in the national media and aren’t criticizing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, you’re apparently doing it wrong.
Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobelski became the latest in a long line of Roethlisberger detractors Friday, labeling the future Hall of Fame quarterback as the Steelers’ biggest bust ahead of the 2021 season. That’s not to say Roethlisberger was a bust for his career, Sobelski rights, but he says the veteran quarterback could hinder the Steelers’ chances of competing in 2021.
“For the purposes of this article, potential busts will be identified based on the possibility of them hindering their respective teams this fall instead of looking at them as long-term failures, as is the traditional designation,” Sobelski writes.
Roethlisberger somehow holding the Steelers back in 2021, rather than the offense line, the rushing attack, or the loss of a couple of key defensive pieces this offseason?
That’s where Sobelski is with the Steelers and Roethlisberger though, which is astounding.
“Ben Roethlisberger’s implosion against the rival Cleveland Browns during the Wild Card Round of the NFL postseason can’t be glossed over just because the Steelers decided to promote a new offensive coordinator, draft a first-round running back and re-sign wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster,” Sobelski writes. “Roethlisberger is a 39-year-old quarterback who already had a major elbow surgery. Plus, he’s been pummeled throughout his career. In fact, Big Ben could end the 2021 campaign (and possibly his career) as the all-time leader in sacks taken. To make matters worse, the Steelers offensive line is a work in progress.
“Chukwuma Okorafor will move from right to left tackle, and Zach Banner returns from a torn ACL after only one start in 2020. Kevin Dotson will become a full-time starter in his second year, and Trai Turner joined the team in June to replace David DeCastro. Center, meanwhile, remains an open competition,” Sobelski adds. “The Steelers have weapons. What they don’t have is stability up front, which will drastically affect their immobile quarterback.”
To me, this sounds more like Sobelski has issues with the offensive line (and rightfully so) rather than with Roethlisberger, but I guess it’s en vogue to bury the future Hall of Fame quarterback at this point in his career, rather than take issue with other clear red flags elsewhere.
Is Roethlisberger going to be his vintage self and light up secondaries? I doubt it, and honestly, let’s hope that’s not the case. If Roethlisberger is throwing 35+ times a game, the Steelers are either trailing early, or the run game has been a disaster. Neither are great for the 2021 Steelers chances.
What the Steelers need from Roethlisberger is to be a slightly above average quarterback, in my humble opinion. That doesn’t mean he’s lighting up defenses and putting his name into the MVP race; rather, he’s smart with the football, efficient through the air, and putting the offense in winnable situations.
But a bust for the Steelers this season? That’s simply not going to be the case at all.