Now that the regular season has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: QB Ben Roethlisberger
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The Steelers’ franchise quarterback didn’t get a ton of help on offense, but shared plenty of the blame for their immense struggles yesterday in their loss to the Bengals.
Ben Roethlisberger was a victim of half a dozen drops, if not more, on his 58 pass attempts yesterday, of which he completed 38. He was facing pressure fairly regularly. Yet he largely has himself to blame for how the game turned out.
The 39-year-old veteran looked like somebody who should have retired but didn’t realize it, at least for large portions of the game. Many will argue that he’s looked that way for the past two years, let alone the past two games, but I won’t. There was a special ineptitude on display in this game that rang different to prior performances.
It’s not just that he threw an interception directly to a linebacker—he says that he thought he saw the defender moving in the opposite direction and would drift out of the coverage. It’s not just that he took multiple completely unnecessary sacks for which he was entirely to blame.
It was the effect of the whole package rolled into one. It was an offense that went 3-and-out (or 4-and-out) six times on 11 possessions. It was the continued inability to use the entirety of the field, of failure to capitalize on matchups, and more still beyond.
Roethlisberger, even today, can play better than this. It will help to get JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson back. But he is going to need help. The offensive line needs to accelerate its growth, as do rookies Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth, who did score his first touchdown today but also had his first drop.
The Steelers’ next opponent is the Green Bay Packers, on the road. You can bet that they will be the overwhelming underdog against Aaron Rodgers and company, and they absolutely should. They somehow beat the Buffalo Bills in week one, but nothing we’ve seen since tells us this offense can compete, at least in this stage of development.