The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks the fifth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—a new record for the franchise since the merger. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-7-1 and making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from the majority of the offensive line to Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams—not to mention Stephon Tuitt, essentially.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2021 season.
Player: Ben Roethlisberger
Experience: 18 Years
Unfortunately (or fortunately), depending on your perspective, this particular exit meeting is truly an exit meeting, as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has all but formally retired after 18 seasons in the National Football League.
A winner of 165 games in the regular season with another 13 in the postseason, with two Super Bowl trophies and a third appearance, and five trips to the conference finals, Roethlisberger has had unambiguously one of the great careers at the quarterback position in the history of the game.
Statistically, he ranks in the top 10—often the top five—in nearly every major quarterback category, whether it’s yards, touchdowns, wins, or even sacks and interceptions. A lot of it comes with the territory of longevity—but you also need to be good to have a long career.
Was he good in 2021? Not entirely, obviously, but with a caveat. He had some of the best numbers in football in the fourth quarter in overtime. He led six fourth-quarter comebacks and seven game-winning drives, both the most in the NFL this season and the most in his career, of which he has among the most in history.
In his final season, he was asked to adjust not just to a new offensive line—with four new full-time starters, including three entirely new to the team, two being rookies—not just new starters at running back and tight end (also rookies), but also a new offensive scheme under Matt Canada.
Could Roethlisberger have done more this season with a better offensive line, with a complementary running game and actual time to drop back to throw, instead of feeling forced to rely on quick releases to stave off beatings he can no longer take due to his lack of mobility? Probably.
Is it far too late for anything different at this point? Yeah, it is. The end point is upon us. He gave it a damn good run, and he’ll be in Canton in five years. He even gave us an exciting run at the end of the regular season. But it’s time for all involved to move on.