7.5 C
New York

How Ben Roethlisberger’s possible absence vs. Bengals could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Steelers

Must read

How Reach Vet, an AI-based program applied in medical practice by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, can help detect veterans at higher risk...

Benedict Carey / New York Times: How Reach Vet, an AI-dependent procedure utilized in scientific exercise by the US Division of Veterans Affairs, can...

Greatest Pandemic Videos of All Time

CourtesyAs the worst particular person on your timeline may well have reminded you back in March, a large amount of good art has occur...

&#039We Know We Are Asking A Whole lot.&#039 Los Angeles County Announces New Continue to be-At-Home Order

The a few-week get prohibits all general public and personal gatherings with people outside the house of a person's domestic, with constrained exceptions for...

Ben Roethlisberger’s comeback season hit a speed bump after the Steelers‘ quarterback was placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list due to having “high risk” contact with tight end Vance McDonald, who has tested positive for the virus. And while he won’t be able to return to Pittsburgh’s facility for the next several days, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that he expects to have Roethlisberger, linebacker Vince Williams, running back Jaylen Samuels and lineman Jerald Hawkins (who were also placed on the team’s COVID-19 list) against the Bengals if they do not test positive for the virus this week. 

If Big Ben can’t play, he would likely be replaced by Mason Rudolph, who will receive the majority of the reps his week ahead of fellow backup Josh Dobbs. It’s safe to say that Steelers fans are not excited at the prospect of having Rudolph back under enter after the third-year quarterback struggled in relief of Roethlisberger last season. And while Roethlisberger’s absence would hinder the Steelers’ chances of victory on Sunday, it could benefit the Steelers in the long run. 

Roethlisberger could use a weekend off. He suffered a scare this past Sunday when he momentarily left Pittsburgh’s game against the Cowboys after taking a shot to his left knee. Roethlisberger actually played better after he returned to action, throwing two fourth quarter touchdown passes while leading Pittsburgh to a 24-19 win. 

While Roethlisberger said that he is OK after the hit to his knee, the fact remains that he is a 38-year-old who is coming off major elbow surgery. Roethlisberger, whose 513 career sacks is tied with Tom Brady for the third most in league history, is only halfway through a season that became even more challenging after the NFL moved Pittsburgh’s bye week from Week 8 to Week 4. A week off would give Roethlisberger a chance to rest, recover and reset for the second half the season. 


Getty Images

Roethlisberger’s success during the first half of the 2020 season has helped turn the offense’s struggles in 2019 into a distant memory. That’s obviously a very good thing for the Steelers, as Roethlisberger is playing at an all-time level. Roethlisberger’s success, however, may have made the Steelers too dependent on their future Hall of Fame quarterback. Specifically, Pittsburgh’s running game has been virtually non-existent over the last two weeks, as the Steelers have rushed for just 48 and 46 yards in those contests. The Steelers won both games to remain undefeated, but one-dimensional teams don’t win championships. Just ask the run-happy Ravens, who are 0-2 in the playoffs with Lamar Jackson under center. The Steelers need to re-establish their running game, regardless of who is at quarterback. Not having Roethlisberger under center may force Pittsburgh to rediscover its roots. 

The Steelers also need to find out what they have in Rudolph, who played well at times last season before a big hit by Earl Thomas in Week 6. Rudolph never regained his footing after that. While he played well enough for the Steelers to win his next three starts, Pittsburgh could not hide Rudolph’s ineffectiveness during its Week 13 loss in Cleveland. Rudolph’s altercation with Myles Garrett didn’t help matters, either. With the hot glare of the national sports media hovering over him, Rudolph appeared to wilt under the pressure the following week in Cincinnati. Rudolph was replaced in that game by Devlin “Duck” Hodges, who started Pittsburgh’s final five games. Rudolph did play well in relief of Hodges against the Jets in Week 16 before an injury in that game ended his season. 

Rudolph, who went 5-3 as a starter last season, should be considerably better this season. For one, he’s had an extra year working with Roethlisberger, Dobbs, Hodges (who is now on the Steelers’ practice squad) and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. He has more weapons this season than he did last year, most notably tight end Eric Ebron and rookie sensation Chase Claypool. Rudolph also has regular season reps under his belt, a luxury he did not have entering last season. 

Knowing their offense was playing with a backup quarterback, the Steelers’ defense put the team on their collective back during the final 14 games of the 2019 season. And while they have been nearly as impressive in 2020, Pittsburgh’s defense hasn’t been as lights out, particularly on third down. And while relying on your defense to win games should not be a weekly expectation, the Steelers’ defense, led by Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick, should be expected to rise to the occasion when called upon to do so. Sunday’s game may be that time. 

Sunday’s opponent, the 2-5-1 Bengals, appear to be an ideal team to face without Roethlisberger, but not for the reasons you may think. While their record does not command much respect, four of the Bengals’ losses came in one-possession games. The Bengals headed into their Week 8 bye with a much-needed win, as Cincinnati defeated a talented Titans team, 31-20. Joe Burrow, the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year, threw two touchdown passes against the Titans while completing over 70% of his passes. Burrow will offer a new challenge for the Steelers’ defense, while Pittsburgh’s offense, even without Roethlisberger, should not have too many issues moving the ball against a Bengals defense that currently ranks 22nd in the NFL in passing defense, 29th in rushing defense as well as in third down efficiency, and 27th in red zone efficiency. In short, the Bengals are a formidable opponent, but one the Steelers should be able to beat, with or without their franchise quarterback. 

The 2020 Steelers are the NFL’s last unbeaten team. And while more than half of the 27 other teams that started 8-0 in the Super Bowl era managed to reach the Super Bowl, the last nine teams that started 8-0 failed to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. While the specific reasons vary, one common theme was how each team’s biggest weakness was exposed in the playoffs. Pittsburgh’s biggest weakness, at this point, may be its reliance on Roethlisberger. And while not having him on Sunday could hurt them in the short term, rediscovering how to win without him may pay off in a big way down the road. 

Some Exciting Offer For You

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

52 + = 54

Latest article

How Reach Vet, an AI-based program applied in medical practice by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, can help detect veterans at higher risk...

Benedict Carey / New York Times: How Reach Vet, an AI-dependent procedure utilized in scientific exercise by the US Division of Veterans Affairs, can...

Greatest Pandemic Videos of All Time

CourtesyAs the worst particular person on your timeline may well have reminded you back in March, a large amount of good art has occur...

&#039We Know We Are Asking A Whole lot.&#039 Los Angeles County Announces New Continue to be-At-Home Order

The a few-week get prohibits all general public and personal gatherings with people outside the house of a person's domestic, with constrained exceptions for...

Wilton Gregory turns into very first Black American cardinal — just after three coronavirus tests and a quarantine

Amid the pandemic, the Vatican’s ceremony to elevate new cardinals experienced considerably less pomp and a lot more regulations.