There is no doubt who the most important player on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense is, and that would be Ben Roethlisberger.
Don’t think so?
Why don’t you go back and look at some of the games from 2019 after Roethlisberger was lost for the season with an elbow injury which required surgery. Go ahead and refresh those memories of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, it might make you appreciate having Roethlisberger back this season.
Even with those extremes in the recent past, some fans still think the Steelers are leaning too much on Roethlisberger. Statistics certainly can back that narrative up with the Steelers being extremely pass-heavy the last four games of the regular season.
But are the Steelers too reliant on Roethlisberger? Did they put all their eggs into Roethlisberger’s basket, and should they have don this?
Randy Fichtner was asked this very question during his press availability via Zoom on Thursday, and he doesn’t believe the Steelers are relying too much on Roethlisberger. Why? Because, according to Fichtner, he is their best football player.
“I would shy away from wanting to take too much out of Ben’s hands. He is the most experienced and quite honestly our best football player. He has a lot of insight into all levels of the game.” Fichtner said. “I think we’ve got to do a better job of being more consistent and efficient in our runs. We’ve looked at certain play action and some things to potentially create more chunks down the field as well.
“He hasn’t been resistant to anything. He’s been unbelievable—wants to be coached, comes in with ideas. He studies overnight. He texts us a bunch of different things that he likes to do and thinks about doing, that type of thing. I’m kind of excited about being on a real week schedule because there is maybe some flow to be able to do that.
“The rush to some of these past weeks, you better be committed to do the things you feel most comfortable to do because you really didn’t get practice reps versus maybe the looks you were anticipating for that week. We can do everything a little bit better. Me, him, our staff, our players. Everyone can do something better and we know how to do it right. We’ve done it right. If you call it a lull, maybe it was and maybe it is at this point. But, shoot, we can get out of that, too.”
That is certainly the hope for the Steelers moving forward, finding a way to get out of the offensive lull they currently find themselves in and return to the form which had them the lone undefeated team until Week 13.
The running game is an issue which has been talked about endlessly, and the Steelers know all too well about them trending in the wrong direction in that category. However, they have struggled to simply score points the past four games. In those games, the Steelers are averaging just 19.5 points per game. This is the same offense who once averaged over 30 points per game this season. So, fixing it is possible, but how exactly does it happen? According to Fichtner, the offense needs to get off the roller coaster they find themselves on currently.
“I would be the first to say, one, I want to win every game and up until two weeks ago, we were.” Fichtner added. “And that’s been the number one goal for me in working here. I do think that we’d love to be more balanced. We’d love to, like I generally would say, run it when we want to run it, throw it when we want to throw it and execute in the possession downs and red zones and be consistent.
“I think what gets disappointing is two weeks ago we weren’t consistent in the red zone, last week we were consistent in the red zone, we just weren’t down there enough. Three weeks ago, we were really great on third down. Then, last week we weren’t good on third down. Just trying to find that consistency all the way through. We don’t probably have to be the best at any one of those, but we can’t be the worst once and the best the next day. I believe that consistency has to start coming through. Like I said, I bet if we went back early in the season, it all wasn’t always like that either, just consistent in every facet of the game. But it felt like you were more medium then you were hot and cold.”
The Steelers’ offense has work to do, but luckily for them they have some time to get things fixed. They have already locked up a playoff berth, and are a win away from winning the AFC North for the first time since 2017. They have time to fix the issues, but can they get it done? Only time will tell...
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15 on Monday Night Football.