Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger

By Matthew Marczi

End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.

Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.

Player: Ben Roethlisberger

Position: Quarterback

Experience: 10 Years

Ben Roethlisberger entered his 10th season in the NFL as the oldest player on the offensive side of the ball as he continues to grow into not just the captain of the offense, but the leader of the entire team, as a true franchise quarterback should be.

The season began fairly rough for him, however, as the end of the previous season finished. Roethlisberger suffered an unusual and awkward upper body injury in the middle of the 2012 season, and he never quite looked the same for the rest of the year.

I don’t want to go so far as to speculate that that injury carried on in some way into this season—in fact, I wouldn’t particularly expect that to be the case—but it took a while for Roethlisberger to appear comfortable, and not just because he was constantly running for his life with Mike Adams at left tackle.

Over the course of the first four games, Roethlisberger threw five interceptions and also fumbled the ball five times, losing four of them. When your quarterback is losing more than two turnovers every game, it’s hard to win. And they didn’t win a single game in the first month.

Even so, he ended up putting up some impressive yardage totals in desperate losses that included seemingly hopeless late rallies, as the one ended by a sack-fumble against the Minnesota Vikings.

Somewhere during the course of the middle of the season, the Steelers began using more no huddle in their offense and allowed Roethlisberger greater authority over the play selection at the snap, and this coincided with him playing some of the best football of his 10-year career.

Over one six-game span, he threw 16 touchdowns, a pace that would exceed 40 touchdowns projected over a full season and would shatter his own franchise-best 32 touchdowns. Thanks in very large part to that late-season stretch, he did have the second-highest touchdown total of his career with 28.

Equally important during that same period of time is that Roethlisberger also finally became more proactive in his own protection by taking less sacks, incorporating more quick timing passes into his repertoire, and more frequently permitting himself to utilize his check downs, which likely has something to do with the emergence of rookie running back Le’Veon Bell.

While the season may have started off on a somewhat bumpy road for Roethlisberger—22 turnovers is the third-highest total of his career—there were some very real strides in his game in 2013 that should carry over into 2014. He is finding his own voice as an offensive leader, and his ability to stay healthy could help finally turn this offense into one that can carry a defense for a change.

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

    Ben finally listened and got rid of the ball sooner. Thank the good Lord! This helped the entire team in so many ways. Less pressure on Ben to do something extraordinary, less pressure on the WR’s, less stress on the O Line to hold for a long period of time, less turnovers, less injuries, more positive plays and it all added up to 1 thing:

    More wins! Exactly what everybody wants.

    Now going forward, on the odd occasions when when he will scramble and do something amazing, there will again be an element of surprise again.

  • mem359

    I haven’t seen enough games to know, but I wonder if it is only partly Ben getting rid of the ball sooner, and more the other players getting open sooner. After Miller and Bell were back, opposing defenses had more problems covering.

  • cp72

    Ben has matured and I think he is heading for three years of elite production. That’s why I am big on adding an offensive weapon in the first round. Give Ben weapons of Brown, Bell, a healthier Miller and maybe Evans, Benjamin, Ebron or Lee and you better look out.

    I understand that we need talent in a couple spots on defense, but maybe we don’t need to win games 17-10 anymore. I think you look at the strength of this team and it’s now on the offensive side of the ball and we might as well embrace it.

  • Callentown

    I really don’t think it had to do with him getting the ball out sooner.

    More to do with the O-line being unable to pick up any stunts, him getting hit and sacked A LOT and not having the TE option as a receiver for the first half of the year.

    He seemed rattled and it affected his game. Really puzzling how this team came out of the gate. Yes, Pouncey getting hurt was an issue. But the line seemed ill-prepared as a unit to block the various schemes that teams brought at them and it’s hard to understand how they didn’t see that in pre-season.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    An excellent point! I never really thought about it like that. Yes, we all know the offense has to get much better to compete in the modern NFL. But now that you mention, they can kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

    With your scenario they can add a piece that can almost immediately contribute on offense, while the defense can improve just slightly and try to hold their own and let the O win games for a while.

    Also, by drafting lots of defenders they will have time to coach them up for the future when they will be needed — 1-2 years from now.

    Like your thinking.

  • Steve

    When the running game gets 4-5 yards per play, thats a first down every 3 plays and opens up the passing game. Teams must put more Guys in the “Box” to stop the run. Bell didn’t play the 1st 4 games, having the injured foot. Teams could tee off on us, knowing we couldn’t run the ball, and go after Ben, knowing we were one dementional with only the pass. This was the reason for so many sacks and fumbles by Ben, besides poor line play in my estimation…Why Tomlin hired Bicknell is a Big question???? Its almost like when the Vikings gave away numerous players to get Herschel Walker, then don’t use him (Useless)!! Tomlin has made many mistakes in 2013. I hope he learns from them.