The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has been unable to get going much thus far during the 2021 season, the significant amount of changes from just a year ago doing them no favors in terms of their ability to come together as a unit.
Many feel, though, that the biggest problem with the offense is its oldest part: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, now in his 18th season in the league at the age of 39. He has been facing heavy scrutiny, particularly hits past week, with many sports pundits proclaiming him to be ‘done’ and ‘washed’. His teammates, though, still have his back.
“I think he’s doing a great job. I don’t have much to say bad about him at all”, wide receiver Chase Claypool said yesterday. “That’s what happens when you struggle. People start looking for different avenues to find answers. I’m not worried about that. I think he’s going a good job”.
Roethlisberger has thrown for 801 yards so far through three games, completing 83 of 130 pass attempts with three touchdowns to three interceptions. He currently owns a quarterback rating of 79. He has taken eight sacks so far behind a new offensive line, compared to just 13 through the entire 2020 season.
While his blockers may be nearly entirely new, however, his wide receiving corps is intact from last season, with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud joining Claypool. Rookies, running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth, have both been assets in the passing game so far, and have caught two of his three touchdown passes.
Roethlisberger has been the first to admit that he is not playing well, and he’s certainly not, even if he is not getting much help. The running game is going nowhere, the offensive line is not keeping pressure away from him, and his receivers are dropping balls. According to Pro Football Reference, seven percent of his passes this year have been dropped.
On top of all else, he and the rest of the offense is operating under a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada. Given the results on the field, it would be difficult to say much complimentary of his offense so far, but he hasn’t been dealt the best hand in the NFL, either, even if he’s basically said exactly that multiple times this offseason.
Still, so many trace the biggest issues right back to the quarterback position, and Roethlisberger’s play is certainly a significant part of why they are 1-2 right now. The question is, can that improve; and if not, at what point do you start talking about benching him?