The saying about Father Time being undefeated is 100% accurate. Even the best athletes to ever live watched their prowess fade away at some point and result in them stepping away from the game.
However, that doesn’t mean aging athletes, and the organizations who employ them, can’t do little things to help get every last bit of life out of their careers before calling it quits.
One of those is to surround your aging quarterback with young, vibrant and dynamic receivers.
This is exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers have done with 38 year old Ben Roethlisberger and his current receiving corps. When you think about it, Roethlisberger is surrounded by youthful exuberance.
All within their first four years in the league, and obviously on their rookie contracts. It can make an impact on players like Roethlisberger, and this is something offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has noticed this season.
“No doubt keeping him young. Maybe giving him a little bit more gray hair, he is catching up to me. There’s no doubt.” Fichtner joked. “That communication has been awesome to see. I don’t know how you couldn’t feel rejuvenated about things like that. You watch a play like these guys were out there making and JuJu jumping in a pile and fighting 11 guys for a ball and things like that. There’s enough to be excited about that group and then Ben has just jumped into it with them.
“That’s exciting, because they are a young group. We are all always developing. Coach Hilliard has done a fabulous job with those guys in the short period of time that he is able to be here. Like I said, a lot of that is just to improve Ben’s communication and interaction with them as well.”
Don’t think this hasn’t been noticed by Roethlisberger himself. Just a few weeks ago he talked about the receiving corps, and what it means to have such a young group paired with one of the most veteran quarterbacks in the NFL.
“I know JuJu [Smith-Schuster] a little bit. I’ve enjoyed working with him in the seasons that I have gotten to do that and I’m excited to get back out there with him and Diontae [Johnson]. I got to watch him last year and what an incredible talent. It has been a lot of fun to actually get more reps with him and more plays.” Roethlisberger said. “I’m looking forward to getting out in an actual game feel with him because I think sky is the limit in terms of talent with that guy. He is fast, he’s quick, he can get open, he’s got great hands. He’s one of those receivers you look forward to playing with.
“James Washington is another guy that I have gotten to play with for a few years and really stepped his game up and I expect him to keep getting better. He shows that he can. He knows the offense in and out and he’s not making mistakes. He’s running fast, he has great conditioning. So, excited for what he can bring. Obviously, the young guys Chase [Claypool], none of us know what to expect yet. I think we are all a little excited there as well.”
At the end of the day, the youth on the Steelers’ offense can equate to more than just positive vibes in the locker room. Giving Roethlisberger this many weapons at receiver could equate to a renaissance for the Steelers’ offense. So far, so good for this group after the Week 1 win over the Giants, but can they keep it going vs. the Broncos in Week 2?
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Broncos at Heinz Field in Week 2.