Don’t Take Ben Roethlisberger For Granted As He Heads Into 10th Season

By Jeremy Hritz

It is hard to believe that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 31 years old and is entering his tenth season in the National Football League. In his nine years, he has delivered two Super Bowl Championships and countless highlights that have resulted in exciting last second victories.

Sadly, the inevitable is that Roethlisberger maybe has five to six productive years remaining in his career with the Steelers before a new face takes over the reins at the quarterback position and leads the Steelers into a new era.

What a sad day that will be, but it is a natural process in the NFL.

With that in mind, if the Steelers are going to win a Super Bowl in the next ten to 15 years, the best chance for that to happen is with Roethlisberger firmly in place as the starting quarterback.

Both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are 35 years or older. John Elway played for 16 years, while Brett Favre’s career nearly spanned two complete decades. With the way that Roethlisberger gets beat up from season to season, it is difficult to envision him playing into his late 30s, though his determination and toughness are unquestioned.

These final seasons with Roethlisberger as the Steelers quarterback must be capitalized on as franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees, and the probability of the Steelers landing another one when number seven retires is small. Franchise quarterbacks make all of the difference in the NFL, as they can take a team on their back and lead them to a championship. In 2005 when Roethlisberger earned his first ring, he did so with a receiving corps whose only premier player was Hines Ward.  While the cupboard appears to be empty on the offensive side of the ball in 2013, Roethlisberger has proven that he can get it done with a less-than-elite supporting cast.

The bottom line is that with Roethlisberger at the helm, the Steelers will have a shot at another Lombardi until he decides to call it a day, which hopefully is a long, long way off.

Many questions are surrounding the Steelers in 2013 on defense and at the running back and wide receiver positions, but the team is loaded at the most important position of them all. In addition, several years of drafting high-quality offensive lineman may finally pay off this year, providing Roethlisberger with the protection that he has not had the luxury of enjoying during his career. And there is one element that cannot be ignored when discussion the Steelers 2013 prospects, and that is the fiercely competitive constitution of oft-battered veteran.

If the Steelers do not win a Super Bowl in Roethlisberger’s final years, there may be a significant gap in between the 2008 championship and the next. I do believe that Roethlisberger has one more title left in his arm, and as long as he is leading the Steelers, they will always be in contention.

Next year, and the few years following, Steelers fans need to savor the final seasons with Roethlisberger. Because unfortunately, to quote Robert Frost with a slight adjustment, “nothing black and gold can stay.”

  • walter mason

    I agree with everything as I remember all too well the Malone years.

  • steeltown

    I have always appreciated Ben, his toughness, his grit, and I have not wavered from it. Some people want to criticize Ben, even Steelers fans, for losing games, they’ll talk about things like last season when he threw an INT in the closing minutes, of two particular games… yet they forget that he has also been a driving force in winning games and coming back in games that we couldve and maybe even shouldve lost (including the last drive in the ARI/PIT SuperBowl)
    One only needs to think back to the gap of not only SB wins but Conference Championships between the 70’s and present to see just how special Ben and the rest of the crew has been over the last 10yrs

  • RW

    The issue is not whether his receivers are elite, but whether we have a good-to-elite running back that can consistently force defenses to play 8+ in the box. This is when Ben is at his best. As you correctly point out, the two super bowl victories came with a less than stellar supporting cast as far as receivers go, but we had Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker for the first super bowl (back when Willie was in his prime and defenses still had to respect Bettis – see the Urlacher trample for proof of that), and Willie Parker/Mewelde Moore/Rashard Mendenhall in 2008. While 2008 wasn’t Willies best year statistically, the running game was good enough to be respectable and Willie was especially good in the playoff games (although he fizzled in the Super Bowl, but with good reason – Arizona’s mission was to stop the run, as just two weeks before he carried the ball for 146 yards and 2 TDs against the Chargers). It’s the run game that will help Ben out moreso than his receivers.

  • steeltown

    I agree
    A new OLine scheme partnered with a good RB that flourishes in said scheme and the potential talent across the OL will be a big factor moving forward. I also believe getting a young TE (Miller heir apparent) with high potential is important, especially considering Haley’s Offense

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    You hit that one right on the Head! Elway did not start getting his rings either until they had a stellar run scheme/quick passing game that included one Terrell Davis and a Tight End named Sharpe. I often see Ben and Elway as similar QBs when it comes to how they play .

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    Brister too…remember when they would show his Mom in the stands every time he got planted in the carpet?

  • mlc43

    I absolutely agree, which is why I’m not one of the ones that want to use the 1st round pick on a WR. If they can hit on a RB this year and we can stay healthy…this team is as capable as any of putting together a SB run.

  • rob.pghsteelersfan

    Exactly why the Steelers should focus on offense this draft. Just because Roethlisberger has won super bowls with a below average supporting cast doesn’t mean that’s all he should ever have.

    If we can all agree that Ben is the key to winning another super bowl, then the obvious thing to do is give him the best chance to be successful. You do this by surrounding him with offensive weapons. Pittsburgh needs to upgrade the WR and HB positions, and find their TE of the future in the top rounds of the draft.

    The Steelers may have a history of finding guys at these positions who can contribute late in the draft, but the fact is that they are not as good as the guys drafted in the higher rounds. Yes late round gems but for the most part guys are drafted in the first round instead of the fifth for a reason.

    So forget about drafting a G or OLB in the first round. Good franchises build their teams around their best player

  • walter mason

    yea Bubby always seemed to be playing too short.

    While Malone was a great athlete, he had a bad habit of staring his receiver down the field. He was not capable of hitiing 2nd and 3rd choices, not a problem with Rothlisberger. This ability often taken for granted…

  • RW

    Thanks! To your point – can you think of any of Elway’s receivers off the top of your head? I had to look it up – they had Rod Smith, who was a great WR, but is not a Calvin Johnson or a Larry Fitzgerald type of player. He reminds me more of a Hines Ward. Other than Rod Smith, Elway had literally no one else to throw to in his WR corps. We’ve already got Antonio Brown. I’m not saying we shouldnt add a WR, but with Ben’s playing style, I’d rather see the running game improve.

  • Dan

    While I do believe Ben is a premier QB and will likely play at a very high level for a few more years, I really only root for him to the extent that he wears the Black n Gold. I support the team in part because I view the Steelers as the “good guys”. The long history of the organization and the Rooney family is representative of the positive values and strength of American virtues. When Ben’s off the field behaviors made news a couple of years ago, I watched the interviews and read everything that was released to the public on the matter. And while on a visit to the Burgh talked to a few folks in the Coraopolis area with first hand knowledge of his behaviors. After that I honestly would have preferred they released him despite what it would have done to our win/loss record. I do hope he has sincerely changed and that he has a successful family life. I still contemplate dusting off the ole number 7 jersey that’s been hiding in my closet for the last 2-3 years. It’s not like I’ve never wronged another person, but I just think keeping Ben has tarnished our white hats a bit.

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    Exactly! We won with Nate Washington who also was no Fitz or Megatron by any stretch of the imagination..but we had Hines, Bettis, Parker, a solid O-line and an occasional trick pass play from Randle El.

  • rizzo29

    I agree, the OL hopefully can stay healthy a lot of promise there,getting a rb that can take some of the pressure of him. Thank god Ben is such a big guy the poundings he takes you got to close your eyes sometimes.He did admit it,s his fault a lot of the times,hanging onto the ball to long but that,s how he play,s and at this stage he,s not changing.I can,t imagine once he get,s older the physical toll on his body it,s done he,s in for a lot aches and pains

  • Pete

    I get what you are saying about a better running game but the main cause of Steelers inept running game was the O line. Less injuries and better cohesiveness and experience and you will see the running game improve a lot.

    You may be forgetting that Elway also had hall-of-famer TE Shannon Sharpe to throw to when they won the Super Bowl. Sharpe amassed 1,107 yds in the 1997 Super Bowl season. Sharpe had three 1,000+ yd seasons and six 800+ yd seasons in his career. Rod Smith had 8 seasons with over 1,000 yds receiving.

    In 1998, Smith again had over 1,000 yds receiving, McCaffery had over 1,000 yds and Sharpe have over 700 yds. The Super Bowl Broncos had receiver and running back strength.

  • RW

    Don’t get me wrong, Elway had some talent around him, but he made everyone around him better. McCaffery wasn’t a stud receiver in the same way Brandon Stokely has never been a stud receiver. Obviously I think we need to grab a TE in this draft. In my last mock posted in one of these discussions I had us trading back and taking Eifert in the first. I just don’t think that receiver is a huge priority given that we already have Brown and Sanders. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to grab another receiver somewhere in the draft, just not in the first. I also agree with you about the OLine – I wouldn’t mind grabbing a guard/tackle in the 2nd/3rd rounds – Barrett Jones is a guy that instantly comes to mind. Nevertheless, I still think the Super Bowl Broncos had minimal receiving talent, but a strong run game, which opened up the play action for Elway (it’s why Rod Smith had so many 1000 yard seasons). Smith was 6’0, 200 lbs, so he really didn’t have the build of today’s elite receiver. I can see Brown having a similar season and perhaps taking Robert Woods would afford us an even better opportunity to end up with 2 1000 yard receivers.

  • Pete

    Absolutely. Elway made everyone around him better. It’s a tough argument to make whether Smith would’ve been as great with a not so great QB because Smith played his entire career if I’m not mistaken with Elway and the Broncos. Smith’s numbers are very similar to Hines Ward’s career production. Totally agree that having a monster RB helped the receivers especially with play action and the threat of the QB running. And the threat of the QB running helped the RB. Elway almost won the SB by himself previously but by the time they won in ’97, the Broncos had built a pretty good team around him.

    I agree with you that there’s no need to grab a WR in the 1st round since they can get a good one throughout the draft. There are so many areas of need but the Steelers will draft best athlete available on their board. I’d like to see them take another G somewhere in this draft and Jones sounds like he could be good (Dave Te had good things to say about him).

    Last year I was hoping they would take an O lineman in the 1st. In 2012 the first G taken was DeCastro at 24. In 2011 it was at 23 by the Eagles. In 2010 the 1st G went at 17. If the Steelers want another top flight G they most likely could get one (Warmack or Cooper) at 17. Picking at 17 they have to nail this one, I’m not sure a Safety like Vaccaro is worthy at 17. I wouldn’t take a LB or any tweener at 17. And I definitely wouldn’t take a RB in the 1st.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.sanford.923 Bill Sanford

    I am sorry Dan , but if you were up on Steeler history and really knew some of the shenanigans that went on with some of the old Steelers, your dream world would explode.

  • zipposteelers

    BR is the QB of the Steelers. He has won twice in the SB. He does know what it takes to win it. Not a good time to turn on him. The one guy who hasn’t been able to stay healthy is Troy P. A healthy Troy and a healthy Ben is exactly what this season needs. I’m just saying why not be optimistic. It could happen.

  • Dan

    Yeah I know it’s an idealistic viewpoint and that there have been plenty of players over the last 80 years that were not the most upstanding citizens and even some on that were on the wrong side of the law outright. But I don’t think there have been many that did what Ben did, and none that I know of who were the face of the franchise at the time. The Rooneys had a tough pragmatic decision to make, and I don’t know that I would have done differently given the investment.
    This may sound out of whack, but I consider the Steelers to be somewhat representative of righteousness. Just as I want to raise my kids right by getting them to church on time, telling them not to hit their classmates, and making sure their bathed and groomed, I also teach them the awesomeness of Steeler Nation. Other parents can let their kids grow up to litter the streets, beat their wives and wear Raider jerseys, but we’re better than that.

  • http://twitter.com/rectorj39 JDR

    shut up pussy…stay in your stupid church all sunday and dont watch anymore football….no charges filed, what happened in georgia, was nothing that doesnt happen here on the gulf coast any day of the week. he did the drunk chic and her fat friends got mad because nobody wanted them
    if your stupid enough to believe the bullshit that comes out of churches do us a favor and dont comment anymore….older kids playing football are not role models, they are there to win games…you should be your kids’ role model…and if you’re so concerned you shouldnt force bullshit religions from the stone age on them.. dont worry as soon as they hit 18 the ancient forms of crowd control stops working, they’ll be out of there… stupid stupid stupid
    your morals or whatever you want to call it are solely your own, keep it to yourself, not everybody is some step and fetch it bitch that needs to be told what to do… what the hell does going to church do anyway? give you a taste for blood and wine? cannibalism? do they announce the winning lotto numbers? what is it even for and what use is it in today’s modern world.. people like you is why non steeler fans hate us, all your holier than thou crap that has no place in the modern world

  • http://twitter.com/rectorj39 JDR

    Malone would have been a good QB if not for a knee injury, he did take us to the ’84 afc championship… he gets more shit than he deserves for being the very next after bradshaw, while Stoudt, Woodley, Scott Campbell, didnt even belong on a field

  • http://twitter.com/rectorj39 JDR

    if you read the police reports the real ones not espmz version of shitting on us while propping up cheating teams or teams with murderers, then you would know there was nothing to it other than an elected prosecutor using it all as free add time for re-election

  • http://twitter.com/rectorj39 JDR

    go back to 1950, Flanders.

  • Dan

    Hold diddly on there angry guy. I was really more making the point about punctuality with the church comment, but sorry the mention of places of worships offends you. But don’t worry their still voluntary in most places. As for Ben, I read the original report and watched the interviews of the victim. While their wasn’t enough to get a conviction without her testamony, it’s clear what happened and anyway you look at it, that was messed up. People have done a lot of time for a lot less…just depends on the available evidence. But agree there’s plenty of worse characters in the league.

  • http://twitter.com/rectorj39 JDR

    if there were anything to it, he would have at least been held for questioning. and it wasnt the drunk slutty girl who reported anything. it was her fat cock blockers… and what that cracker-ass prosecutor said in his free tv spot was his own conclusions not reality.
    sorry to jump on you about your stone age tradition but I’ve had enough of the wars they cause,,, and that word, worship,, that doesnt sound like anything i’d want to do or make my kids do, its so 2000 years ago…cant wait for it all to go away so we can live in peace as fellow inhabitants of earth.
    and yes there are lots of way worse characters in the nfl(ray lewis), they just dont have to take all the shit that the QB of my favorite team has to put up with for getting some, its not like he stabbed 2 kids or ran somebody over while drunk.