Woodley misses Foster and takes out Polamalu during Foster's game winning TD run.

Dire Straights: Ben Roethlisberger’s Foot Injury Could Be Blessing in Disguise


Ben Roethlisberger is helped up after a low hit in yesterday's loss to Texans. Courtesy mysantonio.com

I’m not going to say the season is lost.  I think that is far from what transpired as the Steelers sent more players to the training room during and after the Steelers 17-10 loss to the Texans.  But it is going to get a bit worse before it gets better.  We should all just swallow that pill right now.  But take heart Steelers Nation, our franchise quarterback may not have to go through those growing pains.

The Texans dominated most of the game, and the Steelers should have lost by more – two Texans’ touchdowns were called back on penalties.  Both of those were generated by defense and special teams too.  The Texans had amazing ball control on their offense.  The opening drive reminded me of what the Steelers used to do on a regular basis.  The Texans were the Steelers and the Steelers were shades of an old Texans team.

The Steelers’ offensive line gave up five more sacks in yesterday’s loss, and they took their toll on Big Ben.  As the Steelers were pinned in their own endzone late in the 4th quarter, a defender went low on Ben, causing him to roll back on his foot and knee.  A flag was thrown on the play, though when looking at the replay the guy was blocked/pushed/thrown down into his legs.  I’m not sure there was much of a choice.  Ben was visibly limping the rest of the way, but sources say that is not likely when the foot injury occurred.  The injury is said to have occurred during the four and out after Antonio Brown had a nice kick return that set the Steelers up for a chance to tie the game.

Either way, Ben Roethlisberger’s availability for next Sunday is now in question.  Ben left the stadium in a boot.  The obvious tests will be done.  Even with a broken foot, there is a good chance for the Steelers to have #7 taking the snaps come time to play the Titans.  He’s played in a boot before.  With the other obvious problems going on with the team, I wonder if it is even worth them putting their already banged up star quarterback under much more suffering.

Let’s face it (I already have since week 1) the offensive line is nothing short of terrible.  They can’t even allow a three step drop to execute properly.  And if Ben can’t get rid of the ball to a receiver by then, only two things can happen – 1) Ben scrambles to get the ball down field somehow or 2) a sack because Ben has lost his way in knowing when to just throw the ball away.  The line has given up 14 sacks in four games.  That puts them on pace to give up 56 sacks by seasons end.  How long can Big Ben or anyone for that matter last under those conditions?

The Steelers would be better off putting someone like Charlie Batch in a QB while they wait for Roethlisberger to fully heal.  Aside from that time allowing him to heal, it would also allow someone else to take the licks from a defense while the coaching staff and front office figure out what to do about fixing the dam that is just about broken.  They wanted to get rid of Batch prior to Leftwich’s injury – now’s their chance to end his career by allowing him to play with such a shotty offensive line.

I swear the entirety of Steelers Nation should storm the South Side facilities with torches and pitchforks if Tomlin does not admit that they need to take some drastic measures.  The entire situation is on his shoulders now because he needs to figure something out.  There is an obvious lack of talent on that line and no form of consistency will help these guys get better with each other.  That was a pipe dream to begin with.  Someone needs to be acquired.  Hell two guys need to be acquired, and the Steelers should prepare themselves to shell out the money for it and take the hit on the roster somewhere else.  Trade for someone.  Do something instead of sitting behind that microphone giving us a rundown player by player of who is going to knock us in the mouth next .  I don’t care if you’ve decided running the ball is not the way you want to execute an offensive scheme, but you still need pass blockers to throw the ball down the field and keep your QB from getting killed.

The defense just can’t sustain the type of pressure on a team to have to pick up the slack of the offensive woes.  LaMarr Woodely proved NPC’s own Dom di Tolla right when he not only missed a crucial open field tackle on what would become Arian Foster’s game winning touchdown run, but also took his own teammate Polamalu out of the play altogether.  I still won’t concede that the defense is old and slow.  I don’t know what is going on with them – but they are struggling to stop any player on any down.  One takeaway in four games is an uncharacteristic and awful stat.  Teams are going to have good offensive days against the Steelers every week.

Too bad I can’t say the same thing for the Steelers until they do something about their offensive line.  But until then, they should at least recognize that they will be lucky to hit 10-6 or 9-7 this season and should save their franchise quarterback.  There’s still a big picture to be looked at here and #7 not being a part of it would be a tough blow for this franchise.  Although, maybe the defense is old and slow, and the coaching staff is trying to scramble together one last playoff run before things really go down the drain.

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  • DomDiTolla

    Great article Craig, really well done. Like the “storm the facilities” rhetoric as well. Also can’t believe that Arians dials up 5-7 step drops with that Line, simply ridiculous. I also completely agree with the notion that Ben getting nicked up might be a blessing in disguise. The $100 million dollar man should not be subjected to the merciless beatings out there that his paper-thin O-Line just lets happen. I don’t want to say the season is lost, but I agree that the team should be in no hurry to rush Ben back into the lineup just to get beaten worse than a townie by Patrick Swayze in “Road House.”

  • DomDiTolla

    Great article Craig, really well done. Like the “storm the facilities” rhetoric as well. Also can’t believe that Arians dials up 5-7 step drops with that Line, simply ridiculous. I also completely agree with the notion that Ben getting nicked up might be a blessing in disguise. The $100 million dollar man should not be subjected to the merciless beatings out there that his paper-thin O-Line just lets happen. I don’t want to say the season is lost, but I agree that the team should be in no hurry to rush Ben back into the lineup just to get beaten worse than a townie by Patrick Swayze in “Road House.”

  • randyjs

    I have to say, though – you guys always sound like you don’t like Tomlin. Remember that he’s led us to two super bowls. Be sure to remember that when we lose a few more games (what if we’re 2-6? What will your rhetoric be then?). You act like there’s something he can do about the offensive line, too. He doesn’t make the trades, that’s Colbert’s job. There’s not a lot Coach Mike can do about it at this point unless he suits up and blocks himself.

  • randyjs

    I have to say, though – you guys always sound like you don’t like Tomlin. Remember that he’s led us to two super bowls. Be sure to remember that when we lose a few more games (what if we’re 2-6? What will your rhetoric be then?). You act like there’s something he can do about the offensive line, too. He doesn’t make the trades, that’s Colbert’s job. There’s not a lot Coach Mike can do about it at this point unless he suits up and blocks himself.

  • craig.gottschalk

    @randyjs Tomlin has all the power to go to his FO and say I need different guys. It’s part of the primary roll of a head coaches job to make sure that the most talented team possible is assembled while working with FO guys like Colbert. If he didn’t have a say or roll in that, he wouldn’t be in the draft room on draft day.

    I think Tomlin is a good coach who took a Bill Cowher built team and won two championships with them. He will be a great coach if he can sustain a winning franchise after many of those players leave. I like him because he calls it like it is to the media and is one of the best coaches to not bitch and moan about bad calls or other teams/players (like a certain Ravens coach). I totally respect that quality in him.

    His stubbornness with not making changes to a glaring problem and not taking Bruce Arians to task on a poor offensive scheme is all on him and him alone. That’s fair criticism.

  • craig.gottschalk

    @randyjs Tomlin has all the power to go to his FO and say I need different guys. It’s part of the primary roll of a head coaches job to make sure that the most talented team possible is assembled while working with FO guys like Colbert. If he didn’t have a say or roll in that, he wouldn’t be in the draft room on draft day.

    I think Tomlin is a good coach who took a Bill Cowher built team and won two championships with them. He will be a great coach if he can sustain a winning franchise after many of those players leave. I like him because he calls it like it is to the media and is one of the best coaches to not bitch and moan about bad calls or other teams/players (like a certain Ravens coach). I totally respect that quality in him.

    His stubbornness with not making changes to a glaring problem and not taking Bruce Arians to task on a poor offensive scheme is all on him and him alone. That’s fair criticism.

  • randyjs

    Fair enough, regarding Tomlin. I still don’t believe, though, that there’s much he can do. Even if Tomlin pushed for it, FO won’t do anything Drastic (such as trade Woodley or Mendy for a good lineman) – that’s just not what they do. Outside of re-signing Max Starks or Flozell, who are both free agents (aka, not good enough for any of the other 32 teams to want), or some other free agent. So unfortunately, I think we’re pretty much stuck with this ilk for the year. Obviously they will end up signing some people like the ones mentioned above – but I don’t see that helping more than a little. The big moves will have to happen in the off-season.

  • randyjs

    Fair enough, regarding Tomlin. I still don’t believe, though, that there’s much he can do. Even if Tomlin pushed for it, FO won’t do anything Drastic (such as trade Woodley or Mendy for a good lineman) – that’s just not what they do. Outside of re-signing Max Starks or Flozell, who are both free agents (aka, not good enough for any of the other 32 teams to want), or some other free agent. So unfortunately, I think we’re pretty much stuck with this ilk for the year. Obviously they will end up signing some people like the ones mentioned above – but I don’t see that helping more than a little. The big moves will have to happen in the off-season.

  • RickHarmon

    Big moves SHOULD have been made LAST OFF SEASON..resignd the same bumbs but they get rid of the best 2? NO excuses and for gods sake, can we get a real fullback? Arians needs to go his play calls along with an awful line is the reason why Ben’s being hit so much.. 5-6 reciever sets with no one to even put a chip on a blitzing corner or linebacker? Who does that? Seems to me other QBs sees danger comming and either changes plays or the protection..sure Ben will have the line slide left or right but high school Qbs do that..they do much better when they go 2-3 wide with extra heads in to block.. NOTE TO ARIANS..You don’t have a pro-bowl offensive line..do some film study of the other 31 teams and come up with different packages and formations to help those bumbs out..NOTE TO COLBERT..getcha head out ya ass and do ya job..see a problem,fix a problem..
    And I hate to say it..the front 3 Are washed up as well..they no longer have what it takes to run Laboes 3-4 scheme and that’s added pressure on the linebacker’s who can’t seem to make a one on one tackle any more..Farrior is done..now I know why he was replaced in the Ravens game. Woodley is always late and Timmons is just MIA..the 2 bright spots, James Harrison and the Dbs Keenan Lewis will be the starter next season mark my
    words..Troy and Ryan hold steady as always..but now they’re the leading tacklers on the team..not a good state to have for your safties..that’s telling me something wrong up front

  • RickHarmon

    Big moves SHOULD have been made LAST OFF SEASON..resignd the same bumbs but they get rid of the best 2? NO excuses and for gods sake, can we get a real fullback? Arians needs to go his play calls along with an awful line is the reason why Ben’s being hit so much.. 5-6 reciever sets with no one to even put a chip on a blitzing corner or linebacker? Who does that? Seems to me other QBs sees danger comming and either changes plays or the protection..sure Ben will have the line slide left or right but high school Qbs do that..they do much better when they go 2-3 wide with extra heads in to block.. NOTE TO ARIANS..You don’t have a pro-bowl offensive line..do some film study of the other 31 teams and come up with different packages and formations to help those bumbs out..NOTE TO COLBERT..getcha head out ya ass and do ya job..see a problem,fix a problem..
    And I hate to say it..the front 3 Are washed up as well..they no longer have what it takes to run Laboes 3-4 scheme and that’s added pressure on the linebacker’s who can’t seem to make a one on one tackle any more..Farrior is done..now I know why he was replaced in the Ravens game. Woodley is always late and Timmons is just MIA..the 2 bright spots, James Harrison and the Dbs Keenan Lewis will be the starter next season mark my
    words..Troy and Ryan hold steady as always..but now they’re the leading tacklers on the team..not a good state to have for your safties..that’s telling me something wrong up front