The week’s topic is Ben Roethlisberger and his comments on the Steelers culture. He believes that the team’s tradition might be dead, and if so, the team’s reign at the top of the NFL could very well be over for the foreseeable future.
“Maybe the tradition of the Pittsburgh Steelers is done,” Roethlisberger said on his podcast, Footbahlin. “Who is grabbing someone by the face mask and saying, ‘That’s not what we do.’ Is that happening? Yes, you have guys on defense doing it, but you need guys on both sides of the ball doing it. You need someone to stand up in that room, on offense, and be like, ‘Hey, this isn’t what it means to wear the black and gold.”
Cam Heyward and Najee Harris have already responded to that. Heyward disagreed with it, while Harris did not believe he was qualified to comment specifically on it but stated that ‘maybe’ Roethlisberger was right. But Heyward was the guy who experienced the culture firsthand and took umbrage to the comment.
“Ben has an opinion, and he’s entitled to that, but I don’t agree,” Heyward said on Good Morning Football. “We lost these last two games, and it’s been rough. But the Steelers way is about grinding it out and it doesn’t matter what’s going on. So, there is plenty to be done about it, and the tradition starts by winning games, having good defense, scoring points. So, hopefully we can adjust to that this week.”
But on Thursday, Chuck Pagano, former Colts head coach, joined the Pat McAfee Show to discuss the comments. He believes that Roethlisberger is stepping over the line with the Steelers commentary. Instead, he blames the poor coaching on the offensive side of the ball and quarterback play when looking at why the team is falling short.
“Who are you gonna address it with? The first thing I do is pick up a phone and have a, you need to come down here and have a sit-down with Ben,” Pagano said. “He finally went to one game right, he’s been to one game, if you’re here Wednesday, Thursday, you’re at practice, you’re at this, you’re hanging out, you’ve got a feel for the locker room, you know exactly what’s going on, then maybe. I mean, it’s easy for us all to sit back and look. If you have a quarterback, he’s not saying shit. Nobody’s saying nothing. You’re winning football games with this football team.”
Despite back-to-back losses to 2-10 teams at home, the Steelers still hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC Playoff picture. The season can still be salvaged, they just need to take it one game at a time and win on Saturday in Indianapolis. Leaders such as Fitzpatrick, Watt and Heyward can only do so much. They need the rest of the players to buy-in. If not and things continue to unravel, expect sweeping changes with the coaching staff and roster in the 2024 offseason. That could also come with that quarterback change.