In a quarterback-driven league, I’m a quarterback-driven guy. There is no position on the football field I know more about and none that I enjoy critiquing more than quarterback. This is of course one of the reasons I so thoroughly love watching Ben Roethlisberger do what he does week-in and week-out.
This week, Big Ben returns from a three-week hiatus due to injury. A sprained shoulder and rib dislocation will do that to a guy. While I was very pleased with the play of Charlie Batch last week, Roethlisberger at 75% is still the guy that gives us the greatest chance of winning each week. No offense Charlie, but that’s how I see it.
There does however come a very strong caveat from me and many of my fellow card-carrying members of the Steelers Nation and that is this; No excuses Ben. None. Don’t want to hear them one way or another and I don’t want to hear them from Mike Tomlin either.
If the Steelers should go out before the home crowd this Sunday and lose because of a poor performance by #7 then I don’t want to hear any excuses. I agree with the decision to start him and will not second guess it from this point on. The Chargers are a team in disarray and are ripe for a Steel City beatdown whether Ben is at QB or not, but I certainly like us better with him.
This week at practice, Ben Roethlisberger showed enough to Todd Haley and more importantly, Mike Tomlin for the head coach to declare Roethlisberger the starter. In my mind, that means he can make all the throws necessary to be an NFL quarterback. The deep ins, the deep outs, the posts and the go-routes should all be at Ben’s disposal.
If it sounds like I’m ragging on Ben I’m not. I just have high expectations for him and I know he has high expectations for himself. As I said, I’ll always take a less than perfect Roethlisberger over a 100% back-up but I still have every right to have high expectations. If he and Tomlin declare him ‘good to go’ then I want no excuses one way or the other.
I have to believe Haley will customize the gameplan to help Ben both stay upright and get rid of the ball quickly. This is basically his passing offense in a nutshell anyway so it shouldn’t be a big adjustment. Jonathan Dwyer will again be the starter in the backfield and should see the lion’s share of the carries so the run game will be important for Roethlisberger as well.
I have always found Roethlisberger to be honest and if anything, too forth-coming with injury information at times, but I always appreciate the way he takes responsibility for his actions both good and bad. That will need to continue this week regardless of how he plays. I expect some rust and who wouldn’t after three weeks out of action, but I know Ben expects the same thing I do and that’s no excuses for anything. Just get the win and worry about ‘the how’ later.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.