Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
After pointing an audible finger at his disagreement with some of the offensive playcalling, the Steelers quarterback attempted to make amends with his coaches and owners.
Mike Tomlin has gone on record saying that his franchise quarterback is "on board" with the offensive philosophy, contrary to the media's perception of comments made by a player caught in the moment.
Following a disheartening loss to the Dallas Cowboys in week 15, Ben Roethlisberger was asked about particular instances regarding playcalling and use of the no-huddle. At face value, his comments seemed deflective, trying to avoid the pitfalls journalists were laying before him. The problem with deflecting bullets, is they ricochet into another trajectory. Their new vector seemed aimed directly at offensive coordinator, Todd Haley.
Ben expressed his displeasure with the lack of no-huddle in the second half, and disagreement with a particular playcall towards the end of the first half. While his frustration at the time of the impromptu interview was through the ceiling, his words were escalated into a rebirth of rumors of discord and dissension.
According to Mark Kaboly, Roethlisberger moved to quarantine the situation, before it spread to the point of no return.
On Monday, Roethlisberger met personally with Haley, and with members of the Rooney family, to apologize for his remarks. While his apology doesn't necessarily mean he is as "on board" with the offense as the team claims he is, it does mean that he understands his place in the offense, and that there were more accomplices to the loss than just the playcalling.
While the common misconceptions are that Roethlisberger simply doesn't like Haley's offense, misses Bruce Arians' offense, or wants more control over the offense himself; the truth is the offense is still struggling to learn the playbook. Roethlisberger had played in Arian's offense for so long, he was able to make multiple reads through his progressions, using his ability to stay alive until someone got open. In Haley's offense, plays are designed to place a single target in a favorable position creating separation through scheme.
Because of the change in focus, Roethlisberger has become more of a single-read quarterback. What separates a good quarterback from a bad quarterback in this type of system is trust. A quarterback must trust the play, and the receiver to run the correct route with the correct timing. If the receiver fails in his responsibilities, the quarterback is left to find someone else or get sacked.
While this description leads Haley's offense to sound simplistic and unsophisticated, one must remember this is only Roethlisberger's first year in the offense. These are the changes that were talked about in the preseason. Over time, Roethlisberger will become more acclimated to the system to the point that few would be able to tell the difference between Arians' Ben, and Haley's Ben.
The intensity of Roethlisberger's frustration is fueled by the constantly changing faces of the offensive line, and the inconsistencies of the running game. Much has been expected of the former Super Bowl winner, though not as much as he expects of himself.
While many label Roethlisberger as a diva, or hypochondriac; he is a leader. Men in leadership roles are still men, and have the same emotions as all others. However, leaders learn to put aside their personal views for the betterment of the team. As the Steelers welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to Heinz Field on Sunday, Roethlisberger will need to lead a unified front. In team sports, solidarity conquers adversity; not emotions.
On Monday, Roethlisberger put his emotions and ego aside, and apologized for his half-hazard remarks. He sent a message to the media that the locker room is not as divided as they think it is, and he sent a message to his teammates that they are all in this together. For all to share the glory, they must all absorb the shame.
Roethlisberger tried to make short work of his mole hill, before it morphed into a mountain, through his own resolve, recognizance, and resilience. He stepped up to his own faults, and accepted responsibility for them, in an effort to prevent them from destroying everything his team had worked so hard to accomplish.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.