A wise man once said… nothing at all.
There’s been a heavy firestorm (for lack of better terms) of negative media attention towards the Pittsburgh Steelers organization this off-season. Whether it be the drama surrounding the Antonio Brown trade, the parting of Le’Veon Bell or even comments from former teammates on the current state of the team, it appears most of the blame for Pittsburgh’s problems can be traced back to the only player with a Super Bowl ring under their belt… quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger has seen more than his fair share of criticism entering his sixteenth season in the NFL, for events unfolding both on and off the field. Whether it be the alleged sexual assault allegations, the concern of forced interceptions or theories of Roethlisberger faking injuries to only come back late and play the role of hero, Ben has received criticism through most of his career, whether it was deserved or not.
Yet the latest onslaught on Big Ben’s leadership might be the worst of the storm, as former teammates who once embraced Roethlisberger’s style of play and leadership are now stepping to microphones to let the world know how they really feel. The two biggest proponents of the shift in Ben’s spotlight derive from two superstars he shared the field with just two years ago in Bell/Brown, both now on new teams for 2019.
“The organization wants to win. Tomlin wants to win. Ben wants to win” said Bell to Sports Illustrated in late March after signing with the New York Jets. “But Ben wants to win his way, and that’s tough to play with. Ben won a Super Bowl, but he won when he was younger. Now he’s at this stage where he tries to control everything, and [the team] let him get there.”
Brown’s comments on Roethlisberger were more vocal, as he took to the world of Twitter to let everybody know his thoughts on Ben.
No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth https://t.co/MsSyBVd3Ny
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 16, 2019
Throw in a mix of running backs (Rashard Mendenhall and Josh Harris) and thus rests four players taking jabs at Roethlisberger. Yet the players aren’t alone in wanting to put their two cents in about Ben, as those in the media haven’t been shy towards Big Ben either.
“Ben doesn’t never say, ‘I played bad.’ He’s always willing to put the blame at someone else’s feet. Tom Brady has never done that. … All @AB84 did was give you a glimpse into what’s really causing the conflict and its’ no accountability.” — @ShannonSharpe pic.twitter.com/8AT6TzNiHF
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) February 18, 2019
One could find copious amounts of slander directed towards Ben online. By this point, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Ben isn’t the most well-liked player in the league. With seemingly everybody and their mother giving their opinion on him, it would be of great ease for Roethlisberger to come out and publicly state his side of multiple stories he’s been thrown into. With the consistent stream of negativity surrounding his name, how has Roethlisberger retaliated?
By not saying a single word. Zero. Zilch. Nada. If silence were golden, Ben may have enough gold to make entire governments envious.
As the dust continues to settle, Roethlisberger’s silence grows more significant by the day. The ability to take the PR equivalent of a twelve round bout with a prime Mike Tyson and not retaliate in the slightest has proven to be the Steelers’ most efficient defense to what has been arguably the most controversial off-season in modern franchise history. Rather than add fuel to the fire by defending himself, the high road of silence prevails as the Steelers continue their efforts to get back to playoff football after missing the postseason in 2018. Two wrongs don’t make a right, after all. Should Roethlisberger fire back, how much better of a reaction would he receive as opposed to his counterparts? Any extra attention drawn to Ben or the Steelers is bad attention for a locker room trying to unite itself as one.
While the case of Roethlisberger v. Everybody has yet to see Ben make an appearance on the stand, that’s not to say others have failed to do-so.
ESPN’s Ryan Clark, who won Super Bowl XLIII with Roethlisberger, has not shied away from criticizing Ben in the past as he transitioned from player to journalist. However, Clark was quick to come to Ben’s defense when some choice comments were made about his character.
The whole debacle involving Josh Harris accusing Roethlisberger of purposely fumbling the football late in a game? Former Steelers second string quarterback Bruce Gradkowski stepped up to the plate and gave a video assessment of the specific play Harris references, essentially closing any argument those who believe Ben would intentionally fumble had.
Ben’s leadership? Look no further than the man who’s taken nearly every snap from Roethlisberger for the last nine seasons.
Thus we are brought to present day, under two weeks left until the 2019 NFL Draft. The Steelers are believed to have found the heir to Ben’s throne in either Josh Dobbs or Mason Rudolph, as Roethlisberger’s days appear to be coming to a close despite reports concerning a contract extension. Roethlisberger’s legacy will see him go down as the greatest quarterback to ever suit up for the Steelers, yet his image won’t be viewed without a few blemishes.
Roethlisberger hasn’t always handled things the right way. There has indeed existed times where Roethlisberger hasn’t shouldered the blame, a duty usually reserved for the quarterback regardless of the situation. Hosting a weekly radio show has stirred quite the controversy in years past, stretching even to the days when Emmanuel Sanders was a member of the organization. With talks of Roethlisberger potentially putting an end to his weekly segments, it appears as if Ben heard the message loud and clear: Outside noise is not needed in the Steelers locker room.
It’s been quite the off-season for Ben Roethlisberger. After months of letting others spew their thoughts, it appears Roethlisberger will take to the field and let his play do the talking.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/25/20
It was all about wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster’s return and the Watt brothers at the final practice before the Steelers week 3 game against Houston.
Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/24/20
While it’s odd to see referees standing out in a clip of highlights, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s plan to incorporate actual refs into practice this week happened on Thursday.
Tomlin explained he is adding refs to practice to ensure his team is more disciplined, which hopefully leads to less penalties in their game this week compared to last week.
Wide receivers James Washington, Diontae Johnson and tight end Eric Ebron run routes and catch passes in this clip.
Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger Says Form, Mechanics Can Be Better Despite Hot Start
To hear Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tell it, he can better than what he’s shown on the field in his first two weeks since returning from elbow surgery.
He’s not happy with his footwork, he thinks he’s dropping his arm a bit and needs a more consistent release point.
The statistics, however tell another story. They say Roethlisberger has been operating at a higher level of precision than ever before. So which is it? Maybe both.
“I do feel I got a little lazy with my feet, which then, in turn, translated to a lazy arm,” Roethlisberger said. “There were some throws that I kind of dropped my elbow, if you will. I don’t want to get too technical, but it became more of a three-quarter release instead of an over the top when I didn’t need to. There are obviously times you have to change your release point. There were too many throws, I felt looking back, that I just have to get my feet working better, and that will then translate, hopefully, to the rest of the body. Then, I won’t be guiding some of the throws.”
Here’s an example from the game Roethlisberger’s form getting a little sloppy. He throws this ball flat-footed and almost all with his right side, getting less power behind it than usual and resulting in a pass that ends up behind JuJu Smith-Shuster instead of allowing him to build a head of steam toward the defenders at the line of scrimmage.
Is this a big deal here? Not really. Smith-Schuster probably couldn’t have done much better than he did at bulling over the defender, anyway. But this is also a route into the flat on the near side of the field. Over longer distances, that can make a big difference.
“I’ve gotten away with it in the past being able to not necessarily be perfect from the ground up and just letting my arm kind of make up for a lot of things, a lot of imperfections if you talk to quarterback people,” Roethlisberger said. “I feel great. I just need to get it in my mind that I can still make the throws when I’m not in the perfect position to make them.”
All of that can be true, and yet, it’s hard to argue with the results. Through two games, Roethlisberger has a 68.5 completion percentage. His career season high was 68% in 2015. In a game and a half last year, it was 56.5%.
His passer rating, even with an interception against the Broncos, is 107.1. His career season-long high came in 2o07, when he finished with a 104.1 mark. Last season before his injury, it was 66.
Some of that can be explained by a passing scheme that has take fewer deep shots down the field than it has in years past. His yards per pass attempt sits at 7.4, lower than all but four of his other 16 seasons.
Mechanical inconsistency can certainly have a greater impact on longer throws, so the Steelers’ somewhat more methodical offensive approach could be helping Roethlisberger get into the swing of things.
“Maybe some of that just comes from not playing a lot of football,” he posited. “I played two games this year. I played a game and a half last year, so really, it’s about three and a half games in two years if you think about it. It’ll come. Like I said, if I’m having these issues and we are still winning football games, that’s a plus.”
If a 2-0 record with career highs in passer rating and completion percentage is what he looks like with mechanical issues, the NFL should be very worried about what might happen if he gets into a groove.