Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has gotten used to being kept clean. He was among the most abused quarterbacks in the league through the first half of his career, but after learning to protect himself, and having a strong offensive line built around him, the script was completely flipped.
He still knows how to protect himself, but with a novice offensive line now in front of him this season, he’s been taking a beating in the early stages of the 2021 season. These are mostly young guys, who are still learning the etiquette, apparently.
Including helping your quarterback up when he gets knocked down. That’s what they failed to do on Sunday. Roethlisberger was hit at least 10 times by the Las Vegas Raiders, including some high-level impacts. We’ve been assured this week that, while the blocking may not improve, at least the linemen will scoop their quarterback off the ground when they get him put there.
“It was definitely embarrassing. We weren’t noticing it during the game and you rewatch it you’re like, ‘I really didn’t go pick him up like I was supposed to’”, second-year starting lineman Kevin Dotson told reporters earlier today. “We know it’s not going to happen ever again. That was definitely our mistake”.
Zach Banner, who is currently on the Reserve/Injured List and is the most senior member of the group when factoring in both length in the league and with the team, was the first member of the organization to comment on it, addressing the topic on 93.7 The Fan and letting it be known that, as Dotson said, it’s not going to happen again.
Roethlisberger has spent most of the past decade with a seasoned group of linemen, from Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, and David DeCastro to Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler. All of them are now gone, replaced by mostly fresh meat.
Of the five starting offensive linemen, none of them had ever started a game for the Steelers as the intended starter. Dotson started four games as a rookie last year due to injuries. Right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor has 18 starts, including 16 last year, all as an injury replacement.
Center Kendrick Green and left tackle Dan Moore Jr. are both rookies, selected in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. Their heads are probably spinning enough as it is, truth be told. But Trai Turner, while new to the team, has been in the league for eight years, and is a five-time Pro Bowler. One would think that he knows to help his quarterback up off the ground.
Of course, the goal is to keep him off the ground in the first place, and that is where their true priority must lie. You don’t have to worry about whether or not your arthritic quarterback can get up if you’re keeping him upright.