I listened to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s weekly radio show (or, maybe it’s a prolonged segment?) this past Tuesday on 93.7 The Fan, and I must say, I didn’t think his remarks about some of his teammates’ performances in the 24-17 loss to the Broncos were a big deal.
Even as Roethlisberger publicly stated that rookie receiver James Washington should have had more trust in his hands instead of doing his best Superman impression while trying to dive for a pass that likely would have gone for a touchdown had he simply stayed on his feet, I didn’t take umbrage.
When Roethlisberger talked about the shotgun snap from six-time Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey on the play in-which Roethlisberger threw the game-sealing interception, I wasn’t really all that surprised. After all, six Pro Bowls are a lot, and Pouncey was more than capable of tossing Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris far into the end zone (far enough for Harris to have the depth to intercept the pass) just seconds after snapping the football. Therefore, an accurate snap wasn’t too much to ask for.
An accurate snap may have actually led to a running play by James Conner instead of the slapstick comedy he and Roethlisberger engaged in before the latter decided on the pass part of the run/pass option. Therefore, when Roethlisberger mentioned he didn’t trust handing the football off to Conner at that point, it made sense. It also made sense when he stated he never quite had a good grip on the football.
Bringing it all the way back to Pouncey’s shotgun snap, it just made sense that Roethlisberger would cite that as one of the reasons for the play breaking down so terribly.
Speaking of reasons, when Roethlisberger talked about All Pro receiver Antonio Brown needing to run a flatter route on that ill-fated, game-sealing play, I must admit, given the history between the two, my ears did perk up a little.
But certainly not enough for what Roethlisberger said to not resonate with me.
Would a better and flatter route from Brown have prevented a Roethlisberger interception? We’ll never know, but when you’re supposed to run a flatter route, darn it, you’re a Pro Bowl receiver...you should run a flatter route.
When Roethlisberger mentioned—almost as a throwaway comment, mind you—that he wished he could have thrown the football to second-year receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster four-straight times during the crucial goal to go situation in the game's final moments, again, it just made sense to me.
Smith-Schuster did have 189 receiving yards on the day, and in case you didn’t notice, he’s kind of turning into a beast. Why not go to the physically-dominant receiver at least another time or two?
Anyway, in-case you haven’t grasped what I’m saying by now, I didn’t feel any part of Roethlisberger’s remarks on Tuesday were really out of line.
Roethlisberger is the straw that stirs the drink for the Steelers. He’s also a captain on the team. He’s also a 15-year veteran. One more thing, he’s a franchise quarterback with the same kind of cachet as a Tom Brady or an Aaron Rodgers. You want to know why Roethlisberger is often put in a tier below those guys? Maybe it’s because of people feeling he isn’t allowed to chastise his teammates (or have a close relationship with his offensive coordinator).
He should be able to say just about anything he wants to or about a youngster like Washington, for example. Roethlisberger was the straw that stirred the drink on third and 28 in Super Bowl XL when he found a way to convert by locating the legendary Hines Ward downfield. He was the Ben portion of Ben to Ten in Super Bowl XLIII when he connected with Santonio Holmes, the game's MVP, for the winning touchdown. He was the guy who unleashed the pass on what would become Brown’s first signature moment—the helmet catch—on third and 19 in a divisional round playoff win over the Ravens the last time Pittsburgh made it to a Super Bowl.
Who is James Washington right now? He's a rookie receiver who has a lot to learn. You think he won't take Roethlisberger's words to heart?
We criticize athletes for giving robotic answers to the media. We’ve criticized Roethlisberger on many occasions for taking the blame for things he clearly had no business trying to own up to. Yet, the second he gives his honest opinion about stuff that was quite obvious to anyone who watched what went down in Denver last week, we criticize Roethlisberger for calling out his teammates.
If you don’t want a man of Roethlisberger’s status to give honest answers to your questions, don’t give him a platform each and every week.
Speaking of platforms, if Roethlisberger decides to give canned answers the next time he appears on 93.7 The Fan, who could really blame him?