Nov 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass during the second quarter of a game against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won the game 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Is Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger Running Himself Out Of Town?


When NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport led with a story before the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Bills last Sunday, Steeler Nation filled with a cacophony of reaction about the potential of the Steelers trading Ben Roethlisberger at season’s end.  What should have been dispelled and disappeared as the week passed on, it seems like Rapoport has opened a Pandora’s Box, and the rumor mill about Big Ben and his future with the Steelers has only begun to churn.  But, could there be truth to Rapoport’s report?  Could Ben be traded by the end of the season?  Were Ben traded at season’s end – is he the cause of his own demise?

To really try and wrap our heads around the thought of the face of this franchise being dealt for a few picks in the draft (and maybe some cash), I think the past should be explored.  Despite Roethlisberger’s resume over ten seasons, his off the field behavior has been a liability to the team from time to time.  The motorcycle crash, the first sexual assault allegation, the second sexual assault/rape allegation that led to a suspension from the league.  In addition to these things making soiling the shield of the Steelers and tarnishing the notion that the Rooney’s have always run a team that is full of men with class, they also compromised the team and how it performed each of those three seasons of those occurrences.

Motorcycle Accident:  2006 Steelers record – 8-8 and missed playoffs.  Ben throws highest INT total in career (23).

Lake Tahoe Assault: 2009 Steelers record – 9-7 and missed playoffs.  Ben sacked 50 times that season.

Milledgeville, Georgia Assault: 2010 Steelers record – 12-4 and loss to Packers in Super Bowl.

During the biggest scandal (the Georgia rape allegation) the team did fair well.  They won the division thanks to the reliable play from Charlie Batch during Ben’s suspension over the first three games of the season.  So, there is an anomaly in that instance.  However, it does not take away the distraction that incident placed on the team during the off-season and going through the rest of the season.  The Rooney’s had to play some major damage control, and this being the second accusation in as many years, the Steelers branding of being a team full of class was completely compromised (if not shattered) after the Rooney’s decided to keep Ben on the team instead of releasing him.  The Boss looked bad, and it was Roethlisberger’s behavior that put The Brass in that position.  2004-2010 were quite frankly the ‘Golden Age’ for the Steelers based on the players they had on the squad.  There was a dynasty there waiting to emerge – bigger than what the Cowboys came up with in the 90′s.  Would Rooney ever feel that his quarterback, the inherent leader of this team, compromised all of that?

By this time though, Ben had solidified himself as the face of the franchise.  And, one could even argue (heavily) that he had a rather large ladle in stirring the pot regarding decisions of personnel.  Don’t believe that?  Ben has had a hand in the draft (Limas Sweed), keeping players (Max Starks) and coaching (Bruce Arians & Mike Tomlin).  Ben wanted his QB coach to become the OC and got his way.  A defensive minded coach in Mike Tomlin came on board, and Ben and his buddy BA were free to create an offense that was suited for Big Ben.  Why wasn’t the Wiz hired over Tomlin?  Rooney rule?  Bologna.  The Steelers had interviewed the Bears Ron Rivera already.  To say that Tomlin was brought in as a puppet would be a stretch – but seeing how inept he is at coaching a team and making in game decisions, it doesn’t seem so far of a stretch that Tomlin wasn’t the ‘best’ candidate and brought in for other reasons.

Sep 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley reacts on the sidelines against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Tennessee Titans won 16-9. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s difficult to exactly put a finger on what happened between the Super Bowl win against the Cardinals and what eventually led to the forced ‘retirement’ of Bruce Arians.  But, from what I can tell based on the decisions made from that point on, Rooney had had enough and decided to take back control of this team – his team.  How?  By dumping Arians and hiring Todd Haley as the new offensive coordinator.  Haley has developed an offensive scheme that is the antithesis of Roethlisberger’s style of play.  Big Ben does not fair well in this style as he is continually told to stay in the pocket and dump off quick passes.  Ultimately, the goal is to get short yardage and keep Roethlisberger ‘safe’ from sacks with the quick dump offs.  A struggling running game for the last two seasons has been a huge wrench thrown into this new cog, and asking a guy who has won two Super Bowls, numerous playoff games, and 30 game winning drives by running around outside of the pocket is like asking birds not to fly south for the winter.  It’s all instincts at this point.  Further evidence of Haley’s offense not working with Ben is when the Steelers go into no-huddle situations.  The offense is more efficient and drives the field with more consistency.  Ben is in control and calls the plays.

Haley and Ben have failed to get along and get on the same page.  I don’t care what kind of PR is thrown at the media.  Haley and Roethlisberger are like oil and water at this point.  Despite recent draft selections, it does not appear as if the Steelers are making honest efforts in protecting Big Ben and developing an offense that tailors to his strengths.  Keep trying to pigeon hole a player like Ben, and he’s bound to struggle in performance.  That’s clear from this season.  Rumors are now coming out of the South Side putting Ben’s preparation from week to week into question putting his commitment to the Steelers into question and resurfacing the original rumor that Ben wants traded.

It’s all lip service from here on out from this organization.  Rooney said this.  Ben said that.  It’s all spin.  I believe that Ben doesn’t want traded.  I believe that he still works hard despite the latest rumors.  Despite the offensive woes since Haley’s arrival, Roethlisberger probably believes that his position is invincible and that Haley would go before he would.  But, looking back at the last six years it appears as if it is quite possible that Rooney has had enough from his quarterback and is laying the groundwork to deal him out.  The behavior that tarnished the shield, the influence on personnel, the dynasty that never was, the inability to change style of play – has Art Rooney II had enough of Ben Roethlisberger and ready to deal him out of town?  It’s all speculation and conjecture at this point, and even what has been laid out in this article is a big leap of faith.

I will say this, if Todd Haley isn’t fired at the end of the season, and Big Ben is traded prior to the draft, then you can be certain that Art Rooney II made his decision back in 2012 that enough was enough.

 

Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Rikki Giaro

    Another Big Ben hater, you did forget to mention how many times Ben has been arrested, or even charged for that matter. Anyone can make an accusation, and that is all it is without PROOF. Here is an article you might look at , and compair how many suspensions were handed out.http://www.faniq.com/blog/Titus-Youngs-fourth-arrest-moves-him-to-No-6-on-the-NFLs-Most-Arrested-Players-list-Blog-66410-pageall Ben has never complained about the awful line he has to play behind, and who else can handle that kind of punishment? All of the terrible drafts, and leaving quality talent walk out the door, has eroded this team. Ben still remains, always fighting , always trying to win , and never giving up. What could be more Steelers like than that?

    • Craig

      There’s no hate. I love Ben and hope he stays. I’m not really interested in the team moving him. I believe they are wasting his talent. Just because I lay out grounds as to WHY Rooney may want to trade does not mean there’s hate. Take the goggles off, dude.

      • TiVoMan

        No offense, Craig, but it has been articles like this one of yours that have kept this controversy going for the past week. I’m not going to argue with you like Rikki has, but we Steeler fans are suffering enough during this season, and we don’t need a continuing “Ben controversy” to make us more irritable.
        There doesn’t seem to be an easy fix for the Steelers’ woes, but I would rather see Haley go than Ben…any day. By the way, Arians has done quite well for himself since leaving the Steelers, so that makes Rooney’s idea of replacing him with Haley look even worse

        • Craig

          No offense taken. The Rapoport piece as dumb as it was, really got me thinking about WHY in the world the Steelers would even consider it. I couldn’t think of any GOOD reasons – because there are none. So I thought about potential tensions between Ben and Rooney and that seemed to make the most sense at this time.

          I want Haley gone too – like eight weeks ago gone.

  • Rikki Giaro

    This article is just taking shots at a rumor that has no merit. If you truely wanted to make a case for moving Ben, then you would include who is going to replace him. The Rooneys are not going to send Ben anywhere and replace him a rookie QB who is 220lbs.

    • Craig

      The draft with the picks they would get from the trade. Better?
      Murray, Boyd, and maybe even Mariota. All close to 220, all with great passing, good footwork out of the pocket.

  • Rikki Giaro

    Yes that is my point , they are all smaller Qb’s. With an o-line as bad as Pittsburgh’s ,a smaller QB will get killed. Fixing the offensive line has to come first, and that can still be done with Ben under center. Pittsburgh needs to bring in someone that can pick lineman, because Colbert and Tomlin aren’t getting it done.

    • Craig

      Like I said, I’m not condoning a trade. I agree that Colbert and Tomlin aren’t getting it done. But how do you expect the O-line to get fixed when they’ve had busts over the last several years?

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they choose a smaller QB were they to deal Ben for picks. Trading Ben and keeping Haley says to me they are committed to changing the way this offense is/was run prior. That doesn’t necessarily mean they want/need a big QB.

      Again, I don’t see the trade happening, but if it does – I’m going with my arguments from the article.

  • Siggy

    It’s about future money and jealousy. Oh btw, please don’t insult me how Ben “gets his way”. He lobbied for Plax to be signed after 2004, was he? Nope. He lobbied for Faneca to stay after 2007. was he signed? Nope. He lobbied for Wallace to be extended, was he? Wait for it, nope.

    Your second mistake was the “reliable play” of Charlie Batch (Funny how his past is never mentioned). One, he didn’t start game 1. Two, he was awful in Tennessee after Dixon was hurt, played decent, but threw two picks in Tampa, and then lost to the Ravens.

    This entire shit show started when Dick LeBeau’s defense stunk in 2009. The 4th quarter leads they blew that year cost them the playoffs. But no one wanted to blame them. Arians was. And this team has been a mess since on offense, And the defense still can’t hold leads.

    If Art doesn’t want to pay Ben? Fine. But no need to humiliate him either, just like did Arians when they fired him over the phone after the 2011 season.

  • Nick Steel

    This is an article filled with nothing but speculation much like the idiot rant by Ian Rapaport. Any article that talks about the Steelers struggles on offense that doesn’t mention that Pittsburgh has the worst O-line in the league, lacks credibility. Any article that is blaming Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin for the Steelers struggles as a team but doesn’t even mention Kevin Colbert is a joke. The biggest problem with this team is the drafting of Kevin Colbert over the last several seasons. He has spent many early draft picks on the offensive and defensive lines and they both suck. Hood, Adams, and Gilbert are wasted draft picks. Decastro and Heyward have some potential but other players drafted after them have outplayed them. All of these guys are first or second round picks. Roethlisberger has done some stupid things off the field but making a correlation be tween those incidents and saying the Steelers struggled those years is a reach. Ben Roethlisberger is a Rashard Mendenhall fumble in the superbowl away from having THREE SUPERBOWL RINGS ad there is ZERO chance he will be traded. Ian Rapoport had an erroneous report last weekend that was shot down by Roethlisberger and the Rooney’s. Then to save face for the bogus report NFL network let him perpetuate the same report. Then Michael Silver comes up with “its no secret that Roethlisberger is not the most liked person in the Steelers locker room”. He also questioned Ben’s work ethic? Please go and find me one teammate or coach in 10 years that has ever said anything derogative about Roethlisberger or his work ethic. Zero chance Roethlisberger is traded. Z E R O

  • Justin

    Ah man. The thought of a post-Ben Steelers, whenever that day comes, makes my stomach hurt.