OK, maybe you did expect that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, even at the ripe old age (for football) of 39, would play more during the 2021 preseason.
Why? Because, Matt Canada, that’s why.
Canada is the new offensive coordinator; Roethlisberger is going to want to learn his system like the back of his hand; in-stadium action is better than training-camp action (even if it’s taking place in an in-stadium environment this summer); live bullets are better than blanks.
I could do this all day.
I know I expected to see Roethlisberger play more this preseason. Actually, I take that back. “Expected” is such a strong word for what I was thinking and feeling about that possibility. Let’s just say I was prepared for it to become a reality.
Deep-down, well, I really expected what was reported by beat reporter Chris Adamski on Tuesday, and that was the news that Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins and Josh Dobbs would all see action at quarterback in Pittsburgh’s second preseason game against the Eagles at Philadelphia on Thursday evening, which would then lead to yours truly writing this here article.
Am I disappointed? Not really.
Why? One less chance for Roethlisberger to get hurt, that’s why.
Roethlisberger is still the team’s best shot at winning a title; quarterbacks never get hit at training camp; quarterbacks sometimes get hit in preseason games; live bullets can cause your ACL to tear; blanks never do that; Rudolph isn’t a sure thing; Haskins isn’t a sure thing; Dobbs isn’t a sure thing.
I could do this all day.
I realize that Roethlisberger probably could benefit from a few more offensive series this August, as opposed to the two or three he generally gets in the all-important “dress rehearsal” game.
But nobody is going to benefit from Roethlisberger missing extensive action during the regular season. We heard several accounts of Roethlisberger reporting more frequently and sticking around much longer during OTAs as a means to learn Canada’s new offense better. Is that enough? Will his two or three series in the all-important “dress rehearsal” game be sufficient?
It’s hard to say, but the Steelers just have to hope so.
Let’s face it, head coach Mike Tomlin, despite how many times people try to change his surname on Facebook, is no Dumlin.
He knows that Roethlisberger’s health is more important than anything else that has to do with the Steelers winning.
May Roethlisberger’s lack of playing time this summer cause him and the rest of the offense to be a bit out of sync early in the regular season? Perhaps. But most football teams evolve over the course of a season. The team that lines up in September is often way different than the one that will ultimately take the field in November and December.
Roethlisberger is at the point of his career where he probably deserves the benefit of the doubt, same with the Steelers’ organization. What hasn’t Roethlisberger experienced on a football field after 17 seasons? At this stage of the game, perhaps mental reps are just as important as live bullets.
Am I saying that the status quo when it comes to Roethlisberger’s preseason action is the way to go? In a perfect world, I’d love to see the guy see extensive playing time in all four exhibition games.
But this isn’t a perfect world. One can never predict where one of those live bullets will land in a preseason game.
Ben Roethlisberger will have a hard enough time dodging those bullets during the regular season. I think it’s still the right call to protect him as much as possible until the stakes are much higher.