Fitchner Says Rested Roethlisberger Doesn’t Always Need ‘Superman Cape’

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fitchner has been around Ben Roethlisberger since 2007 and during that span of time he’s watched him throw quite a few passes. On Monday, Fitchner let it be known that he isn’t overly concerned about Roethlisberger’s play during the team’s first eight games that included the quarterback throwing 9 interceptions and completing just 61.1% of his pass attempts, which is well below his career average.

“I still feel the accuracy, I still feel the ball coming out,” Fitchner said Roethlisberger’s overall arm strength, talent and other qualities when asked about them. “You all are out here at practice every day. There may be a moment or two in time where he may throw it like a 36-year-old. And maybe a 36-year-old has a moment where the ball doesn’t come out perfect, but we’re talking about perfect, we’re not talking about good enough and special because that’s generally what he is.”

Fitchner said Monday he still believes Roethlisberger has the accuracy needed to play effectively and that often times the mistakes he makes are situational. He also acknowledged that Roethlisberger isn’t shy about putting the blame on himself when something goes wrong.

“You get used to the Superman cape coming off all the time and it just hasn’t yet, maybe,” Fitchner said. “There’s been series, there’s been plays, there’s been really a lot of unique plays made. But I think everyone, including ourselves, we get caught thinking that Superman cape should be coming off every play when it doesn’t necessarily have to. And again, if we protect the ball and we keep giving ourselves a chance to win, that’s the end story and the end game.”

Fitchner was asked Monday if he thinks Roethlisberger might rely too much on targeting wide receiver Antonio Brown.

“I don’t know if you can ever be too reliant,” Fitchner said. “I mean, he’s proven, he makes plays. I think sometimes it goes back to people. If you’re in a situation in a game and you’re trying to make a play, you go back to situations where guys can make plays for you. And like I said, you see the little chemistry between him and JuJu [Smith-Schuster] and we’ve seen chemistry with him and 10 [Martavis Bryant] before. So, it hasn’t mattered who’s playing, the ball has to be dispersed to the right guy more often than not and obviously there’s times where it might go to A.B. and A.B. makes that special play. But they’ve done that for a long time together.”

Fitchner said Monday that during the team’s bye week that the plan was for Roethlisberger to get some rest.

“One of the things was rest this week and you notice he didn’t get a whole lot of work in that regard as far as throwing and things like that and just trying to rest up for the last eight weeks,” Fitchner said.

So, is that some Fitchner and the rest of the coaching staff needs to be more cognizant of as Roethlisberger has gotten older?

“I definitely think you should and we have,” Fitchner said. “Generally, on Wednesdays, he doesn’t practice much. We don’t script him in to a lot of the practice and then he just casually keeps pushing himself in more and more. And this just gave him time to be able to say let’s just back off a little bit and it’s been good for him. I think he was fresh today and wanted to kind of go and we held back. And so, he’ll practice on Wednesday.”

In case you’re curious, Roethlisberger hasn’t been great in games that have followed bye weeks the last three seasons. For starters, the Steelers are 0-3 in post-bye games the last three seasons and Roethlisberger threw just four touchdowns and five interceptions in those three games. Sunday, Roethlisberger and the Steelers will play the Indianapolis Colts on the road and it will be interesting to see if the quarterback can start the second half of the season in grand fashion.

“We do it pretty regularly, weekly,” Fitchner said we asked how much assessment he did of Roethlisberger’s first-half play during the team’s bye week. “We try to evaluate the good and the bad and the things we need to keep improving on. I think the games that we didn’t play really well in kind of speak for themselves and the games where we probably played solid enough, we did a nice job. Not necessarily critique as much as just looking at what we might have to do ahead and the upcoming opponents and kind of where he needs to be at that point.”

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  • Rob H

    Anyone can see that Ben has had his issues at times this year (being kind), but coaches will always tread lightly when talking about the franchise QB, and it’s been that way for decades.
    The people who want the writers to get Tomlin and the other coaches to be more harsh are, quite frankly, a bit naive. Coaches haven’t publicly criticized franchise QB’s that way since Ditka and Parcells did it back in the eighties.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    There can be such a thing as too much rest. Ben (and the starters) rarely plays in the preseason and struggles out of the gate. Coincidence?.

  • Ralph Wagner

    In other words don’t expect Ben to be accurate when it comes to third and one and expect a pick or two. This is the first game back after the buy week and Ben hasn’t had that much practice. Gotcha. LOL

    Go Steelers

  • 6 ring circus

    I’d like to see this guy call the plays, be the OC for one game. I know the results would be different, but in what way?! Haley, call in sick just one time…against the Colts would be very convenient!

  • Mark

    We should rely on the running game this week and let Ben ease himself into this game. Some crossing patterns, flair, and quick outs to WR. We should be able to pound a suspect Colts defense and let our defense create some turnovers and pressure on Colts offense. Anytime we rely on Ben to sling the ball around, get ready for an L! More LeVeon less Ben.

    BTW, I think Dobson is just as talented as Dak and Deshaun and can’t wait for him to give us that Run/Pass option offense that will open up the field for Bell, AB, MB, Juju, and a top flight TE.

    I appreciate everything Ben has done for the last 14 years but it is becoming clear that this is his last season and we don’t need the offseason drama of whether he is going to retire or not.

  • will

    Who is Dobson?

  • will

    “I still feel the accuracy, I still feel the ball coming out,”………said most CBs that have faced Ben so far this season……..

  • dany

    Not only criticizing, any kind of slight against the franchise QB or even most players could easily spawn a headline like ” Assistant Coach think X player is in decline”

    everything they said is agreed upon before, with some leeway of course. That’s why I enjoy coach and players interviews after they retire. Much more honesty

  • nutty32

    Here’s one coach that we rarely hear from or about. Wonder how involved he is with the general passing game.

  • francesco

    Wasn’t this a perfect time for Ben to get chemistry with MBryant and McDonald? So nobody did anything this week? Unreal.

  • Charles atkins

    he probably means Joshua Dobbs our 3rd string qb

  • gdeuce

    McDonald was resting his injured knee

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Kinda my thought…does he need rest or create chemistry between the newer guys on the team. Maybe he needs to practice Wednesday and if he cant hack it well the soup line still has a spot available. If Ben has been sharp then thats one thing but there needs to be improvement and its time for him to work everyday for that huge paycheck he cashes everyday.

  • gdeuce

    you want our 3rd sting QB to start?

  • hdogg48

    Just got through watching Stafford carve up Green Bay like
    he did us.

    Man I wish Ben had his consistency and accuracy.
    Besides Brady and Stafford there’s Brees, Wentz,
    Goff and even Cousins I’d take over Ben right now.

    Lots of wood to chop by the Big Guy to get to
    the consistency we need to get us to Seven.

  • RMSteeler

    Sounds like he’s just a cheerleader. He said he lets Ben be casual and unscripted during practice. That pretty well sums up his passing during the first half. Fellow dinosaur QB’s Brees, Rogers, and Brady don’t need to be eased in and develop chemistry. They hit every receiver, even the ones that just signed off the street. Don’t know what Ben’s issues are, physical or mental, but I think Fichter is being paid to slap Ben on the back and tell him how good he’s doing.

  • GravityWon

    Sure hope you are right, but Watson was way better than Dobbs in college and is a proven winner.

  • NinjaMountie

    If Ben is going to bust out of this slump, now would be a good time. If there is anyone that says they’ve noticed any drop off in Ben’s velocity they would be imagining things. He’s still got the arm. His problems aren’t physical. This is a mental thing with him right now. We’ll see if he breaks out of it.
    I hope so because I suspect he’s going to play out his contract so we don’t need any repeat slumps the next couple years.

  • will

    Oh….ok….that makes sense. Thank you

  • francesco

    20 Million + so the expectations should be higher.
    Rest at end of season Feb to Sept.

  • Jeff Dudash

    Is that photo really the QB coach? Without explanation, I would have bet $100 his name was Joe from Turtle Creek.

  • kev4heels

    I wasn’t aware that QB’s in their mid-30’s had to be on pitch counts throughout the week.
    As a coach, what would cause you to take your struggling QB out of practice every week? Seems to me this would be the time where he would need the MOST practice. Obviously, I’m not a professional QB…but I just can’t see why Ben would need so much rest. Rest from what? Is his shoulder messed up? I mean, if you aren’t practicing much, why would you need so much rest?

  • John Pennington

    Just hope Ben uses all the receivers in the 2nd half of the season instead of relying on AB to do all the work.That includes the tightends and backs.Have to score more points in the 2nd half and less interceptions.

  • Aj Gentile

    Yeah but Watson had a lot more talent around him than Dobbs

  • Mark

    No, I was talking about the future. I think the young man is smart enough to develop into a good QB based on his intelligence and ability to run with football.

  • Mark

    My bad our 3rd string QB. I look forward to him getting an opportunity. I like what his legs would be able to do for our offense and he is highly intelligent.

  • Mark

    Yes, but I think Dobbs has the ability to become a good QB with intelligence and ability to run while keeping his eyes downfield

  • gdeuce

    academic intelligence does not translate to football intelligence

  • Mark

    What evidence do you possess to prove your point. Now if you said it doesn’t always translate to performance on the field I would agree. But Dobbs intelligence has allowed him to digest the playbook a lot quicker than Ben or Landry.. Right now he’s better with his legs than any QB on the team and if he fixes his mechanics he can become a very good QB to go with the allstar pieces around him (AB, LB, MB, JuJu, VM, etc…)

  • will

    I agree. He seems to have potential.

  • gdeuce

    you have no idea how fast each of them digested the playbook, and what does him being physically faster than Ben/Landry have to do with his intelligence?

  • Mark

    Neither do you but I’m definitely sure Dobbs high IQ allowed him to pickup a playbook faster than either Ben or Landry. It seems like logic to me that person with his intelligent level would be able to digest a NFL playbook

  • gdeuce

    even if he did digest the playbook faster, it didn’t show at all in preseason because he couldn’t beat out Landry for the #2 spot

  • Mark

    Dobbs wasn’t going to beat out Landry, especially with Landry being in the fold now for 4 years. But there is no one on this site, except for you that thinks that Landry is better than him.

    Also, if you read the articles on the Depot you can see how much Dobbs performance improved over the preseason.

    Guaranteed next year that if Ben leaves it will become a wide open competition at QB.