Ben Roethlisberger says he and Todd Haley have more open communication this year

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Not masking issues he had with the offense in 2012, Roethlisberger says he's learning more about the offense and feels there is more communication this year.

Looking back on last season, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was on a roller coaster.

From a blistering start to a terrifying injury, from high-end statistical success and a 6-3 record to a poor finish in every area of his game, the Steelers' all-time passing yardage leader has more of a say in the offense this year than last year - the first under offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

"This year, I know a little more about what's going on," Roethlisberger told USA Today's Jarrett Bell. "So I can add my two cents' worth on this play or that play. It's good that we've opened up more of a communication line."

It's another nod at the often reported and debated friction between Haley and Roethlisberger. It came to a head after a particularly difficult loss at Dallas, in which Roethlisberger's interception in overtime led to the game-winning field goal for the Cowboys.

"That play that got called, well, they went to a prevent defense so the play that got called wasn't a good play. At all," Roethlisberger fumed after the game, referring to a play that broke down, but resulted in a 30-yard catch-and-run touchdown for tight end Heath Miller.

The lack of No Huddle offense in the second half of that game also got Roethlisberger going.

"That's tough for me to answer right now," he said in response to a question about No Huddle. "The second half we didn't do much of it, and that's disappointing."

One could chalk it up to frustration. No Huddle or not, Roethlisberger did not play well in that game, and the Steelers were reeling at that point in the season. Another poor performance against Cincinnati in Week 16 led to the team's first elimination from playoff contention before Week 17 since 2006.

The season was going one direction before Roethlisberger's injury, and it never came close to that level again.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin also spoke to Bell, saying "I just think that before the injury he was playing really good football, then after the injury he wasn't - and neither were we," Tomlin said. "That's the reality. I'm not trying to make excuses."

Perhaps the experience in the offense last season, plus a return from injury from several players this year, Roethlisberger included, will produce more positive results. Increased communication can only help those goals.


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