Roethlisberger Needs His Underdog Mentallity To Get Through Feelings Of Lack Of Confidence In Him

One of the biggest topics of discussion amongst Pittsburgh Steelers fans this off-season, outside of the ongoing status of restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, is the change of offensive coordinators and how quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has handled it.

Roethlisberger is perceived by many as one, and the only one, bucking the change so far, and with good reason, as his comments made about the new offense have included several Rosetta Stone references, which infers to how hard the translation of it is. Last week Roethlisberger took it a bit father by saying the fan base would finally get its wish because the offense will apparently run the ball more in 2012, a blatant jab that he was not in favor of it.

While many think that Roethlisberger has issues with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who replaced his good friend and golfing buddy Bruce Arians, the real issue is likely that he feels slighted by the organization by having all of his input and control of the game planning ripped from him. In short, he feels Art Rooney II and company do not trust him or his opinion like they have for the past several years.

While Roethlisberger is surely not naive enough to think that Arians would have been his offensive coordinator for the rest of his career, he likely thought that his eight years in the league, that includes two Super Bowl championships and three AFC crowns, would give him some level of say in who was hired and what type of offense they would run moving forward. He likely thinks that he has earned that right over the years as one of the top quarterbacks in the league.

Control is something that Roethlisberger has been used to since Arians took over as offensive coordinator and Mike Tomlin was named the new head coach in 2007. Sports Illustrated posted a story back in November 2007 that tells about rise in trust the organization had in Roethlisberger, who just so happened to be coming off of a season that saw him throw for 23 interceptions versus just 18 touchdowns. The story goes that Arians and Roethlisberger were coming off the 7th green at Treesdale Golf & Country Club in Gibsonia, Pa. when Arians told his quarterback, “I want you to know something. This is not my offense. From now on this is your offense.”

Arians reportedly at that time let Roethlisberger edit the playbook that he had used under his first offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and allowed him to throw out some plays and rename others. In addition, Roethlisberger was allowed to change the verbiage and terminology of the offense so that it was easier for him to transmit in the huddle. Roethlisberger also implemented his own acronyms and word associations during that change over according to the story. When Whisenhunt was at the helm, Roethlisberger would normally receive the game plan when he arrived at the team facility on Wednesday morning with no say-so in it whatsoever. When Arians took over, the Steelers quarterback helped formulate the game plan at the beginning of the week and there is no reason to think that any of that has changed since then.

One of the biggest criticisms of Arians over the years is that he was too buddy-buddy with Roethlisberger and that he did not incorporate enough change in the offense over the years since he took over that it became too predictable in some instances. Throughout that span of time Roethlisberger became known as a quarterback that held the ball too long in addition. Even as elusive as he would be behind an often piecemealed offensive line, he still was sacked 215 times over the course of 73 regular season games. This led to several nagging injuries over the years and it all came to a head last season with his severe ankle injury that he suffered against the Cleveland Browns in week 14.

Should the Steelers somehow have went on to win the Super Bowl last year, it was clear that Rooney II had enough and a change of coordinators likely would have taken place regardless. A banged up franchise quarterback and an inexcusable loss to the Denver Broncos, even though it was not fully the fault of the offense, gave Rooney II the perfect opportunity to change things up and he did. Although Tomlin said it was his decision, it was one that was made with his arm twisted behind his back more than likely.

The hiring of Haley, which Tomlin also claimed to be his call, was one that had the fingerprints of Rooney II all over it as well because of the Steelers coaching tree association that Haley has along with his militant coaching style. Rooney II basically had seen that his quarterback had too much say in what was going on thus the change needed to be made in his eyes.

Roethlisberger has used the word “change” quite a bit this off-season in regard to the new offense and coordinator, but it is not the first time he has used it with the media though. Back in 2007, after learning that he would have a bigger say in the offense, he was quoted as saying, “It is definitely a change,” Roethlisberger said. “It gives you a lot more confidence to know that your coach believes in you.”

Roethlisberger now is in the midst of change in the other direction and he most likely feels that the confidence that was bestowed on him several years ago is no more. He most likely feels like a rookie once again with Haley now in charge and his multiple jabs that he takes through the media are a defense mechanism of his that he just isn\’t channeling properly. Back in that 2007 story I keep referencing, Roethlisberger was quoted as saying, “I like being the underdog.” That underdog mentality is the best defense mechanism that he will need the most for him to lead the Steelers to their 7th Super Bowl championship in 2012 as the jabs through the media are falling on deaf ears of the organization and only being heard by the fan base, many of who think he is acting like a little baby.

  • Tom

    One cannot know ones own limitations. That is why coaches exist. Ben admitted, after the fact, what everyone else knew ahead of time, “I shouldn’t have played against San Fran”. Yeah Ben, you think?
    This failure is not Ben’s it is a failure of coaching, Arians, and by association Tomlin, did not do enough to protect a player who’s job is to pass the ball. Ben wants to pass on every down and that is why we love Ben. It is a coaches job to protect him from that fatal flaw and tell him when to hand off our even when to sit out if injured. It is his job to complain and ask to go back in. He must be told no for his own good and he will listen because he wants what is best for the team. Art Rooney I I stepped in when the coaches couldn’t.

    Now Haley, and by association, Tomlin will tell Ben no, when he needs to hear it, for his own protection. He will complain because he lives for passing, and that is why we love Ben. But he will listen and submit and wait for his opportunity to be told yes. Then the other team better watch out!

    The Steelers never won a Super Bowl without a great quarterback under center. We are lucky to have him, and he is lucky to have an owner willing to protect him from his own weakness by giving him the “No” that no one else would.

  • Mos_def98

    Hey Dave this is and is the best article on this issue that I have read so far this off-season and I gotta say you hit the nail on the head.

  • Alburghto

    Nailed it!

  • Good article, Dave. I was actually planning on writing something like this myself. Ben is getting lacerated over his comments on all kinds of radio shows and message boards.

  • Man532

    That’s why our game plans were so simple, let’s be real. Ben isn’t the most cerebal QB in the league. He is the toughest QB and can extend a play like no other. However, I’m all about making the playbook fit the talent we have. So Todd also has a responsbility to simplify the playbook in order to ensure success in 2012.

    Bottom line it is on both of them to present a positive spin on this change and Ben is doing a horrible job of it!!! Grow up and make it happen, yes you’ve been instrumental in getting us to 3 Super Bowls, however, you haven’t had the greatest SB stats.


    “I respect Coach Haley’s experience and talent, and I look forward to working with him to make this offense the best in the NFL so that we can bring another Lombardi trophy home for Steeler Nation, the best fans in the world.”

    One sentence, Ben. It was that easy.

    Ben seems to me to be a ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh who never encountered his Crash Davis.

  • JayBirdDC

    I think Ben should be involved in developing plays at some point but that point is not now. Haley was brought in to solve problems that Arians or Arians/Ben couldn’t solve, namely effective running, red-zone offense, staying in the pocket, getting rid of the ball quicker, and general better decision making. Ben needs to understand that bringing Haley in was in Ben’s best interest, get over it, and buy in.

  • SteelerDave

    +2 Very well stated

  • SteelerDave

    Welcome to the team Crash Davis.

    Ben may not like being controlled for his own good but if is truly willing to listen and not to stubborn he will fall in love with the success we can have. Haley is a jerk in many ways but he is even more talented as an OC.

  • Fish

    Very nice Tom.

  • RIP

    I think Haley will be here one season, then Ben will take over as any franchise QB should/would.

  • Dcpfjr

    Mr. Rooney is showing Ben some tough love by taking away his favorite nanny, the one that let him do what he wants, and giving him a new nanny that is going be strict and enforce some discipline. And how does Ben react? Like the petulant child that he is. Grow up Ben! I, for one, am tired of your act.

  • Rex

    What a moronic statement, Ben is a veteran QB he doesn’t need a nanny like you obviously do


    Interesting take.

  • Tcfqb10

    Dude he doesnt need a nanny. And that is not a good comparison. It would be more like a mentor or coach with a friendly relationship

  • Lekraus

    wow they said the very same thing about Bradshaw. Guess Ben is in good company.

  • Kcv442

    Well dcpfjr, I agree with you. However, I have discovered that here, at this site, almost anything said in the negative regarding BigBen with be met with immediate insult. As one writer stated succinctly on another site, Ben is a lightning rod. Those who dare criticize him will get zapped. My own feelings were the same. I felt like, by not appearing to be onboard with the new offense publicly, he was potentially hurting the cause of the 2012 steelers. Apparently, that’s rediculous!

  • Ginko18

    I wonder if Tom Brady complained of change when he had new offensive coordinators come and go, or did he simply man up and get the job done. Unfortunately for Ben, the NFL is all about execution. He had 5 years to execute his offense and he didn’t get it done on a consistent basis. Had he been like Peyton Manning in running and executing the offense, it would have been a different story. It also doesn’t help that Ben can be immature at times given his bosses pause.

  • Steeltyke

    This is exactly right. Ed Bouchette on PG Plus also hit the nail on the head this weekend when he said something about all the Ben/Haley/playbook speculation along the lines of “Ben could make all of this go away by how he answers the questions put to him but he has so far chosen not to do so”.