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Want Mike Tomlin gone? Want Ben Roethlisberger to stay? You probably can’t have both

Is adjusting to a new head coach something Ben Roethlisberger would even consider at this point in his career?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports


I’ve seen this all over the place the last six weeks. It was also a pretty popular hashtag in the month of September. There was a 7-week hiatus in the middle of the season when things calmed down. But if everything wasn’t going exactly the way Steelers Nation felt it should, there was a boisterous section of the fan base calling for the coach’s head. And now that the season is over with the Steelers missing out on the playoffs, the volume, both in regards to sound level and quantity, is bound to increase.

I just have one word of caution to those toting their torch and pitchfork: be careful what you wish for. If Steeler fans want Ben Roethlisberger to return in 2019 in search of a third Lombardi trophy, they might want to reconsider their feelings about the head coach.

To explain why the future of Mike Tomlin with the Pittsburgh Steelers has an affect on Ben Roethlisberger as well, just think back to the last several off-seasons. A couple years ago, Steeler fans were in quite the uproar when Ben took his time before he was willing to commit to playing the next season. There were several speculations as to why there was a delay. One was a need to discuss the future more extensively with his wife after a season with several injuries. Another possibility was making sure his offensive line was going to remain intact. There was also the suggestion of Roethlisberger having too much contempt for offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Ben, of course, returned and Haley’s tenure in Pittsburgh soon came to an end.

So after Todd Haley’s contract was not renewed last season, there was already a lot of speculation for quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner to move into the position. It was assumed Ben Roethlisberger would not want to have to implement a whole new system this late in his career, so hiring someone from within made the most sense. It had been established for some time that Fichtner was “Ben’s guy,” so when he was hired there was no off-season drama in regards to Ben’s status for 2018.

So if a move is made to move on at offensive coordinator along with a hire to keep Roethlisberger happy, do you think the Steelers would honestly do something to mess this up? Not if they want Ben to return next season.

If major changes were going to happen with the structure and scheme for the Pittsburgh Steelers next season, it would probably be the right time for Ben Roethlisberger to call it a career. We all know the end is getting close. It has actually been a reason for many people who want to Coach Tomlin to be let go because they feel “the window is closing” and Coach Tomlin will not get the job done. But if the window isn’t open very much, how much extra work would Ben be willing to put up with in order to do everything all over again in 2019 rather than just shut it down?

Is it possible the Steelers could make a move at head coach and still keep things in place enough for Ben Roethlisberger to want to come back? Perhaps. The easiest way would be to promote from within. But who on the current coaching staff would be worthy of being the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers? The only reasonable argument would be offensive line coach Mike Munchak, but his expertise as a position coach would be too much of a loss.

So if the Steelers brought someone in from the outside, it would have to be a defensive-oriented coach who would then leave the offensive staff intact. Although it could be likely anyway, I don’t see the Rooney’s putting themselves in a position to where they can’t hire the candidate they feel would be best.

In order to appease Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers would need to keep as much continuity as possible with the offense if it is their desire for him to return next season. Additionally, it would be difficult to find a coach who is a higher caliber than Mike Tomlin who is currently on the open market. If the Steelers did decide to move on, I have a feeling Tomlin would be the number one candidate on the list of every team in need of a head coach.

So if Steeler Nation would like to see Ben Roethlisberger return for another season, which he said he plans on doing, don’t look for any coaches who directly affect his preparation to be let go. Now as for the defense and special teams, that’s another story…