Steelers Road To Recovery Begins Under Center

By Matthew Marczi

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-3 and are already two games behind the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals in the division. Forgive me, however, if I still do not find myself panicking.

Part of that is because quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been one of the major culprits in the Steelers finding themselves in the deepest hole they’ve dug in over a decade. Why is that a good thing? Well, quite simply, because we already know that he can play a whole lot better than he has.

Roethlisberger has already accounted for seven turnovers through the first three games, including four interceptions and three fumbles. Three of those turnovers were returned for touchdowns. Each of them came at critical times during their respective games. But there is no reason as of yet to take that as an emerging trend.

The biggest thing that could turn this season around is simply for the Steelers’ franchise quarterback to start playing more like a franchise quarterback. Other than the turnovers, he showed a lot of growth in that respect in the team’s last game against the Chicago Bears, where he had his first 400+ yard game since 2009.

Getting Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell back will also help Roethlisberger play better. Bell will upgrade the running attack, which will provide more versatility and unpredictability to the offense. He is also a capable receiving threat either out of the backfield or off the line of scrimmage.

Miller, of course, is an immense upgrade at the tight end position in comparison to David Johnson, David Paulson, and Michael Palmer. His mere return actually makes them look better, as he draws the attention away from them. Notice David Johnson getting open for two explosive plays this past Sunday? How likely was that to happen a week earlier, with Miller still on the sidelines?

Heath Miller has been Ben Roethlisberger’s security blanket for close to a decade now, and the connection between the two last season was at its all-time peak, with Miller catching eight touchdown passes, and even converting a two-point play.

In his first game back, he caught three passes as he felt his way back into action. He should only continue to improve on a weekly basis. Oh, and he can also block.

The fact that the offensive line is slowly starting to gel, and—more importantly—Roethlisberger is getting a better feel of playing behind this grouping of linemen, with Mike Adams to his left and Fernando Velasco snapping him the ball, will only further contribute to a more efficient offense.

I don’t know if the Steelers will be able to dig themselves all the way out of this 0-3 hole to make the playoffs. But I am not throwing my head in the sand either. I see plenty of reason for optimism, and it starts under center, where it should.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Eric

    I am not panicing either because I have accepted 2013 as a rebuilding year. Hopefully, the FO will make the unpopular but correct decisions on high-end salaries so we can return to prominance next year.

  • steeltown

    It appears we had a great draft, that alone gives me reason for optimism.. now if we can just find a stud LT and another shut down CB to play alongside Cortez Allen once Ike Taylor retires

  • alex

    do we sing Velasco to a three year deal and kick Pouncey to the G spot, giving us our needed T depth in Foster?

  • steeltown

    Ha, that’s not a bad idea Foster and Beachum would be the ultimate swing tandem across the entire OLine… though I think Foster makes a little too much $$$ to be a full time backup

  • HopalongCassidy

    That depends on how much money Pouncey wants. If he is asking too much, let him go. It’s time for the FO to get smarter about signing big contracts that cause cap problems down the road.

  • Eric

    I mostly agree, but we also need to think about a safety as well. Troy & Clark are both close to retirement. My draft order as of today would be:
    1) OT
    2) SS
    3) RB with Speed
    4) CB
    5) TE
    6) OG
    7) WR

  • steeltown

    I mostly agree with that.. I wouldn’t mind drafting TE earlier than that though, maybe push RB down to the 5th or 6th Rd (unless Le’Veon fails to impress)

  • NW86

    But it sounds like you’re saying that they’re not going to perform this year. Kind of the opposite of this article.

  • NW86

    I agree, as it stands now those would be my 2 highest priorities. We’ll know by the end of the year whether we have our future starters at ILB and safety, if not those could be the next priorities.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I think draft order comes down a lot to where you pick. For instance, if I am in the top 5, I am taking a stud LT if he is there. To me the 2nd largest need for this team is a TE and a BIG, PHYSICAL WR. If you add those 3 pieces to this offense, you can create mismatches more effectively. I think the line’s play overall will improve and I think Adams and Gilbert can play in the league, although we will see if they are starters or not as the year goes along.

  • 20Stoney

    When you are relying on a guy that has never played an NFL down, except for a couple preseason snaps, as a significant upgrade to your offense, you’re probably in trouble.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    1.10 – (LT) Antonio Richardson (Tenn)
    2.10 – (CB) Kyle Fuller (Va Tech)
    3.34 – (FS) Tre Boston (UNC)
    4.10 – (TE) Arthur Lunch (UGA)
    5.10 – (OLB)
    6.10 – (WR)
    7.10 – (WR)

  • Dan

    No, the proper priority order is this:

    1. CB
    2. WR
    3. FS
    4. T
    5. RB (depth)
    6. TE (depth)

    It’s likely that Ike Taylor will be a cap casualty after this season, so another CB is needed, especially since William Gay is better off as a “nickel” back. And while I like Antonio Brown, he’s better off as the #2 WR. The Steelers need a tall, physical WR to be their #1. FS is one I’m less certain about. Are they grooming Robert Golden to replace Ryan Clark, or do they plan to draft somebody? Another T might be needed as an insurance policy in case either of the current Ts goes bust. And it’d probably be a good thing to shake up the depth at RB and TE.

  • Dan

    I think the Steelers are relying on the offensive line to come together more than anything else. Competence can only come with experience, and the Steelers have three inexperienced starters on the offensive line.

  • bgsteelfan

    WR is not a first or second round need.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Pouncey needs to play LT

  • Eric

    You are right. I am saying that. I think we will improve from this point, but I have accepted the rebuilding concept which the FO has not.

  • TheBlitz

    Boy, isn’t that sad we are already thinking about the draft and we are only 3 weeks in ?

  • Eric

    I have a little personal bias re: RB as I am a UCLA guy and saw L.Jones picked instead of Jonathan Franklin. If you can forget the horrible fumble, Franklin’s pro debut was 103 years in 2.5 quarters of play. As much as I love a strong defense, we have neglected our offense too much in the last few years and it is showing. With that said, lets grab the offensive players that will help us the most.

  • Eric

    With our current tackles, I say draft the best LT available whether we draft #1 or #32

  • Eric

    I could live with those picks, but I want to see offense become the draft priority next year.

  • Eric

    Thats why I call this a rebuilding year

  • Eric

    I agree

  • bgsteelfan

    CB, Safety, Tackle, TE, are all bigger needs than WR.

  • alex

    we aint never gonna go with a same starting 5 for even half a season anyway…

  • alex

    my grandma need to play LT…she’d get plowed like our guys do, but she might get some pitty flags!

  • Dan

    I can’t see Taylor being let go. We should stick with the best player available mantra; and with so many needs we’ll be in luck on the position. O-line is obviously top of the list, but we already have youth there, so I wouldn’t mind turning to free agency a bit there if possible.

  • Bell Cow

    I think DE is on the list, especially if Kiesel is released and Hood isn’t resigned. Also, keep in mind we traded our 3rd round pick to Cleveland but we’ll likely get compensatory picks from our free agent loses.

    My draft

    Rd. 1 – FS H. Clinton-Dix – Bama
    Rd. 2 – DE B. Gardner – Stanford
    Rd. 3 (comp) – OT S. Hickey – Syracuse
    Rd. 4 – CB K. Fuller – VTech
    Rd. 5 – WR D. Street – PITT
    Rd. 5 (comp) – ILB C. Bollard – Wisconsin
    Rd. 6 – TE J. Jones – East Carolina
    Rd. 7 – OC J. Stone – Tennessee

  • Bell Cow

    The issue going into next years draft will be that we need to replenish on defense. Clark, Kiesel, Ike, Foote, Worilds, Curtis Brown and possibly Hood may all be gone.