While there was never truly a doubt that Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would play in Week 3 despite dealing with a pectoral injury all week, there is growing concern that the 39-year-old quarterback will struggle to make it through the rest of the 2021 season healthy, according to a Sunday morning report from CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
Through two weeks, the rebuilt offense featuring a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada, a first-round running back in Najee Harris, and four new starters up front along the offensive line in rookies Dan Moore Jr. and Kendrick Green, second-year left guard Kevin Dotson and veteran right guard Trai Turner has struggled to look much different — if at all — from the offense the Steelers limped through the final month and a half of the 2020 season, leading to the changes.
Now, concerns are mounting within the organization, according to La Canfora’s report, that Roethlisberger’s production has waned, and that he’s handcuffing the offense a bit under Canada while taking a considerable amount of abuse in the pocket.
“Even Roethlisberger’s most staunch supporters within the Steelers’ organization have privately raised some concern, as the future Hall of Fame quarterback has dealt with injury issues for several years now, and his productivity has been waning for quite some time,” La Canfora writes. “Roethlisberger, who took a considerable paycut to remain with the Steelers for 2021, is also lacking anything close to the supporting cast he enjoyed during his peak years.”
Yes, the Steelers might not have the star power on offense that they once did with names like Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant or Le’Veon Bell on the field, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue that he doesn’t have a better overall supporting cast of weapons with the likes of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington at receiver; Eric Ebron and rookie Pat Freiermuth at tight end; and Najee Harris in the backfield.
The concern all along was the play of the offensive line up front, and through two games it has not been up to the standard in Pittsburgh, leaving Roethlisberger bruised and battered, allowing four sacks of the 39-year-old quarterback and 13 total quarterback hits. The veteran continues to get the football out at a lightning-quick pace, but that seems to be hampering the offense some, and he’s still taking big shots in the process.
“Another exec offered: “The ball gets out in two seconds, or he gets hit. And he can’t shake ’em off like he used to. I don’t think they can get him through the season like this.”
The goal is to keep Roethlisberger upright and healthy, and through two games the Steelers have failed at that. It’s impossible to predict one way or another if the 39-year-old quarterback will miss time in 2021, or get through the season relatively unscathed. It is concerning though that whispers are starting to come from within the organization questioning the decision to not only bring back the veteran quarterback for 2021, but try and pair him with Canada and a rebuilt offensive line just three weeks into the season.