Ben, Ben, Ben. This might be the most attention you’ve received during the actual course of the football season and not just the offseason. For those keeping up on Ben and his ankle and have been thinking about it, you may have already read Kimmy’s post about her thoughts on the matter. She’s on the fence. I, on the other hand, am not.
I agree with Kimmy that the person who paid money for games at the end of the season, paid just as much as the person who paid at the beginning. This is supposed to be a game for fans – so by sitting your starters and ‘super stars’ you aren’t doing them any favors. On the other hand don’t keep guys healthy, and your fans aren’t going to see any football in January or February. It’s a bit of a double edged sword for coaches and fans. But what really grinds my gears about teams sitting players to get healthy when things are ‘locked up’ is they pull the players and significantly decrease the chances of their team winning – which is really a pole up the rear to fans.
The 5th seed is no lock for the Steelers either. They could win out and Baltimore could lose a game in there (and don’t scoff, have you not seen the majority of this CRAZY season?) There’s the potential (though very slim) of Pittsburgh getting the one or two seed by winning the division. So the Steelers should play the starters to ensure that right? Au contraire. I think playing the injured guys is actually more of a liability – for winning out the next two weeks as well as what the playoffs might bring. Ben proved that on Monday night.
If guys like Roethlisberger, Polamalu and Woodley are ‘holding up’ a bit in any way, they are putting the team in danger of not making a play as well putting themselves in danger for further injury. They aren’t practicing for the week (and sorry but even at this level, I’m a big proponent of practicing) and then expected to play at top performance level. I know I know, this kind of stuff happens all the time in football, and most players do just fine. And if they are playing inured, usually that means the backups aren’t so great. Ah, but there’s the rub with our boys in Black & Gold.
The Steelers have dealt with a bunch of injuries and suspensions over the course of the last decade and still have come out with two SB’s and a bunch of playoff wins. The last two seasons the bench has really stepped up and played well – both for offense and defense. As Tomlin said, there are not backups, just starters waiting to play. And for the most part I believe that to be true. Charlie Batch gives the team a good chance to beat the Rams and Browns. Jason Worlids gives the team the same chance. As does Mundy.
I have to look at it from a career standpoint too. What if Ben were to play week 16 still hobbled? What if that hobbling keeps him from running away from Chris Chamberlin, who could pop him and shorten our franchises’ QB’s career? Something that can happen any way – but do you really want to take that exponentiated risk? ‘Nuff said on this for now.
As a nut job fan who is elated to be seeing this team play at Heinz Filed for the first time since it was built, I’m actually putting it out there that I think guys like Ben should sit. The backups give us a good chance to win, especially against teams with records as the pitiful Rams and Browns. I’m going to the game on Saturday to see a good game. I’m going to cheer on the Steelers. And, I will. Yeah it kinda sucks that those guys may not be out there. But I think most people who go to the game would go crazy and cheer for the Steelers with the same intensity and belief in the team if they were to put my mom in a uniform. As long as the team and coaching staff are playing with the full all out intention to win the game, but be humane (and smart) enough to rest the starters who truly need it, then go for it.
I’ll be thankful for those choices later when I can still use the team as an excuse to buy a 60″ TV when they go to the Super Bowl in Indy.
So yeah – sit’em. The Steelers will still fight for those wins. They need to believe in their ‘starters waiting to play’ and so should we.