Trust me, I realize the large majority of Pittsburgh Steelers fans are sick-and-tired of hearing, and reading, about Le’Veon Bell. However, while Bell’s absence from the team dominates the news wire around Steelers Nation, Ben Roethlisberger decided to bring some attention to the players who matter most to an offense — the offensive line.
When asked about what the absence of Bell means for the offense, his answer was a good one.
“You know football is the ultimate team sport. One guy doesn’t make, or break, you. So, I’d like to say the linemen are more important than any skill position player, including myself, on this team. So, this offense is more than just one guy.”
You can hear more from Roethlisberger, courtesy of Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, in the video below:
Ben Roethlisberger says the Steelers offense will be fine with or without Le’Veon Bell. “One guy doesn’t make or break you.” pic.twitter.com/4RebY7GYIC— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 5, 2018
Roethlisberger would go on to talk about how he feels James Conner is not just a ‘year better’ but showing some very good signs heading into his sophomore season in the black-and-gold. In fact, he even mentioned how the offense is ‘excited’ to see what Conner can bring to the table if/when he is given the opportunity.
What is worth noting is how Roethlisberger’s comments don’t just sound like a team captain trying to keep the focus on the team, and not the individual, but he also speaks the truth.
In the game of football, you need skill players, this isn’t a debate, but you also need to have the big men up front paving the way and protecting those skill players. For instance, the Steelers have proven they can run the ball without Le’Veon Bell, and some suggest a one cut, downhill running style, like both James Conner and Stevan Ridley’s styles, is easier on the offensive line. Therefore, some would say it is more about the line than the running back in some instances.
Effectiveness matters, and the Steelers offensive line has been nothing short of that in pass protection the past two seasons. This allows Roethlisberger to feed the ball to the likes of Jesse James, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster on time and in rhythm.
So, when Roethlisberger talks about the importance of the offensive line, he isn’t just being a ‘fearless leader’, but is being honest. Fans should remember just how bad the offensive line was during the early years of Roethlisberger’s career. Players like Jonathan Scott, Justin Hartwig, Sean Mahan and Darnell Stapleton were once the norm, but since the team has put an emphasis on the line, the offense has also turned around.
Drafting players like Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert in the first or second rounds has paid huge dividends, add in undrafted free agent Ramon Foster with free agent pickup Alejandro Villanueva, throw in Mike Munchak and the Steelers have built one of the best offensive lines in the game.
If Le’Veon Bell chooses to sit out for weeks, and not just one game, the Steelers offense will take a hit. However, as Roethlisberger alluded to, it is safe to say the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense will go as far as their offensive line takes them.
To hear all of Ben’s interview, check the video below: