It was a tough loss to the Titans. The injuries really didn’t help the Steelers. However, something happened before the game that got my attention. Finally, Roethlisberger is saying the right things. Whether he means them or not, he told Kurt Warner in an interview aired before Thursday’s game that there is no problem between he and the Steelers new offensive coordinator, Todd Haley.
Over the summer Roethlisberger was honest with the media, almost to a fault. He was upset with the way Bruce Arians was let go and he voiced his opinions. OK, I can understand that, but I was uncomfortable with how Ben was acting. “Same old Roethlisberger,” I thought. I even understood his passion, but I didn’t really care. What I cared about was seeing some maturity from someone I consider a veteran. Now, I think I’ve seen it.
Roethlisberger now seems to “get” what it means to be a leader and to be responsible for more than him. At times he wasn’t even very good at being responsible for himself, but he has two Superbowl rings and I admire how he plays the game.
On the field this year, Roethlisberger has only two interceptions over five games, a great start to the year. The third down conversion rate is the best it’s been in a long time. Roethlisberger’s game management and patience is amazing compared to his younger years. I’m not going to begin to suggest that Haley has a lot to do with it, but sometimes the new voice can help. It’s definitely a progression you want to see in your franchise quarterback.
Roethlisberger was quoted in an NFL.com article based on the Warner interview that this is “our” offense. That is the kind of leadership a team needs. We’ve all seen football players try to act like they are doing it for the team, but you can see a self-centered focus. I think that is part of what Cam Newton is struggling with. “Superman” doesn’t see much beyond himself. I used to think Ben didn’t realize what it meant to lead a team. He was just going with the flow and we were lucky to have other “team leaders” on the offense to inspire and lead on the field.
However, now I think I am changing my mind. This interview and Roethlisberger’s on-field maturity lead me to start believing that he finally gets it. Now, I’m a cynic at heart when it comes to a leopard changing his spots. So, I’m still not convinced that the needed maturity is really there. However, even if he’s being coached what to say, it seems to be working for “Big” Ben.
Ben has another test now. There were A LOT of offensive line injuries during the game against the Titans. Roethlisberger looked a little shaky at times, but besides the one interception he looked efficient. Redman was on his way toward a monster night when he got hurt in the third quarter. Mendenhall now has an achilles injury. However, Rainey and Batch stepped up, and Heath Miller was dependable as always. Yes, it seems injuries are again going to be an overriding story for the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, will Roethlisberger continue to be patient and let the game develop and not force things? Can the Steelers get a win streak going?