All I’m hearing about it whether Big Ben should have played, whether he should sit the next two weeks, whether he should have cut his hair before that one press conference…I’m just so sick of it.
Here’s the meat of it: Ben Roethlisberger will play when he wants to play. Plain and simple. He has earned that. I don’t care if he’s missing an arm and a leg (it’s only a flesh wound!), if he wants to play, he’s gonna play. That is, unless it’s concussion related. They’ve pretty much got that area on lock (except the Browns). When it comes to other types of injuries, though, Big Ben will play whenever the hell he wants.
That may or may not be this weekend. Regardless of how he played last week, which we all know wasn’t good, the fact he was on that field slinging the ball around with a grade 1 high ankle sprain is nothing short of legendary. That injury keeps most humans out for weeks, QBs included. Obviously a high ankle sprain on an offensive lineman is a little bit of a different issue.
Offensive lineman use their feet in a much different way than QBs, which makes coming back for even the biggest of games (remember Pouncey missing the Super Bowl last year?) a challenge. Why is no one talking about the impact of Pouncey being out?!
Does no one see that our offense just doesn’t work when Pouncey doesn’t play? I mean, seriously. The run game, the pass game…it’s a mess when we lose the battle at the line of scrimmage. Let me tell you, when Pouncey is out and Trai Essex is in, there are going to be some serious problems.
On the defensive side, it’s generally accepted that it all starts up front. The Steelers have made their living drafting linebackers and developing great nose tackles to be able to dominate the line of scrimmage and terrorize QBs in the pass rush. It’s the only reason our defense works. We still have a pretty shitty secondary, let’s be honest here. The only reason this defense works (last week perfectly proves this point), is because the linebackers take the pressure off the corners. If the linebackers can get the QB and he rushes his throws or doesn’t get the ball out at all, it creates turnovers in the secondary, and minimizes the throws down field.
Against the 49ers, the Steelers were without their two great pass rushers. And yes, I know Woodley played. He wasn’t 100% and was so out of shape he couldn’t even make it through the whole game. Worilds may be something someday, but right now he is not James or even injured Woodely. We were missing our pass rush, and it allowed Alex Smith to look like Joe Flacco (a half compliment). The 9ers did the same shit the Ravens did against us. The steelers corners give the WRs 10 yards at the line of scrimmage, so we’ll just throw 10 yards at a time!
But I digress.
My point is, without the pass rush, the D doesn’t work, and it’s the same on the other side of the ball. Without protection, the offense doesn’t work. And without Pouncey, there is little protection.
We’re all talking about Big Ben, but Pouncey is the key to the offense working. I say, if Pouncey is out, then Ben should sit, unless of course Ben is healthy, then it’s a non-issue. Since Ben is currently not mobile, there has to be someone in there who can move around. Frankly, Hines Ward could play QB and probably still beat the Rams and Browns.
The only thing that alarms me is that this is Pouncey’s second major-ish injury in as many years (not counting the same injury he had in college the year before he came to the NFL). He’s a beast when he’s healthy, but it kills us when he’s out because the depth on the Oline is just awful. Maybe the added pressure of having a couple below average Guards surrounding him is what keeps catching up to him? Whatever it is, it needs to stop.
So, if we can make it through the Rams and the Browns with the B squad, why the hell not? In the unlikely chance that the Ravens, Patriots, and Texans (Texans lost since writing this. YAY!) all lose games before the end of the season, we can deal with maybe playing some other guys after this Saturday.
If possible, it might be best to just sit Woodley, Pouncey, Ben, et all and let them get healthy before we start the long uphill journey of winning playoff games on the road all the way until the we win our seventh Super Bowl.
I’ve got it all figured out.
Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMeckler, I tweet a lot.