Could the Pittsburgh Steelers be a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2020? If your answer to that question is yes, it should immediately be followed by, “as long as Ben Roethlisberger comes back healthy.”
The Steelers’ franchise quarterback is coming off a season-ending elbow injury which ended his 2019 campaign after just 6 quarters. Since Roethlisberger’s surgery, news on his progress, or lack thereof, has been minimal.
At his end of the season press conference, Mike Tomlin spoke about the timeline for Roethlisberger’s next step in his rehab process in February, and what it was like playing almost a full season without the only franchise quarterback he has known since taking over the head coaching position in 2007.
“We live by the cliché that the standard is the standard. Incidents like the loss of Ben gives us the opportunity to live that out. I don’t know that our mentality changed in terms of what our intentions were. It was an opportunity for us to roll our sleeves up and make that a reality.” Tomlin said to media. “Our focus was there. Our focus was individually doing what was required to get in and out of stadiums with wins. I didn’t spend a lot of time crying about it. I still haven’t. Maybe I will gain a better perspective as I gain some distance. In the process, there is a certain urgency to respond to the next challenge that doesn’t give you a time to wallow in it.”
On Wednesday, Steelers Team President Art Rooney II met with local media and discussed Roethlisberger’s progress to date, and what he had to say was positive.
This via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic:
Rooney on Ben: "Everything we hear so far is positive. In particular Ben's attitude about things. He seems to feel good about it. He really, still I would say in the early stages of his rehab and so he hasn't been able to do a whole lot yet ... (1 of 2)— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) January 15, 2020
"but that's going to start to ramp up here over the next couple of months obviously. We're anxious to see his progress." (2 of 2)— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) January 15, 2020
While things have been positive in Roethlisberger’s physical rehabilitation, and his mental status after having to watch nearly the entire 2019 season, there is a lot left for Roethlisberger to do before fans should get excited for the 2020 season with the same No. 7 under center they have enjoyed watching since 2004.
In fact, there is a reason why Rooney II used the word ‘anxious’ to describe the way the team is viewing Roethlisberger’s return to the field. The hope is Roethlisberger is healed, and moves smoothly through the process of getting himself back into shape as a quarterback in the NFL. But there is always the chance that after all the years of hits, throws and wear and tear on his body that Roethlisberger doesn’t return to the same quarterback he was prior to the injury. If that is the case, the Steelers would find themselves in quite a bind heading into the offseason, the new league year and the 2020 NFL Draft.
There are still a lot of hoops which need to be jumped through before the team even knows the status of Roethlisberger, and you better believe the fans echo Rooney’s anxiety level when it comes to the future of the team being wrapped around No. 7’s overall availability this upcoming season.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they embark on yet another lengthy offseason.