The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has limped out of the gate. Who is to blame? You can point the finger at the new offense, or the struggling offensive line, but a great deal of the blame can be placed onto the shoulders of Ben Roethlisberger. With Roethlisberger in his 18th season, combined with this being the final year of his contract, prolonged struggles will only see Roethlisberger get ushered into retirement quicker. It was always expected that if Ben wanted to play another year he would need an above average type of season, and so far it has been anything but that. Going back to Kevin Colbert’s 2020 season-ending interview it already sounded like the Steelers were divided whether they wanted to bring back the veteran passer for this season. But, stringing along games of below average play will likely see everyone in the front offense turn against Roethlisberger.
Although Roethlisberger’s stats aren't terrible, they are flirting with one of the worst starts to a season in his career. An 85.6 passer rating is his lowest total since 2008, and his 62.7% completion percentage is his lowest since 2010. In a game where passing has grown exponentially, trending in the wrong direction is not good. While Roethlisberger has always had a bit of a problem with interceptions, the egregious ones, like what we saw on Sunday vs. the Las Vegas Raiders, are going to be over analyzed thanks to his advanced age. So all of these bad plays are going to be picked apart even further.
The Steelers offense has been hard to watch, moving the ball has been a painful challenge that the team just can't figure out. Worse yet, these problems are exacerbated when watching other offenses moving the ball at will. We will often celebrate Roethlisberger launching the ball down field and completing it every now and then, but watching other games across the NFL it’s apparent the deep ball is a multi-play per drive call. Quarterbacks are whipping the ball around with ease and are completing it more often than not.
Ben Roethlisberger also has to be getting sick of all the hits his offensive line has been giving up. He has always complained and threatened retirement after games he gets hit a lot, and this 2021 season has already seen him take a ton of heavy hits. Getting smacked 10 times against the Raiders was not a good sign. If the line continues to concede hits, Roethlisberger may happily run toward the retirement light as soon as possible.
So for Steelers fans that have gotten to enjoy the talents of Ben Roethlisberger for these past 18 years, it may be time to savor these next 15 games. The retirement-reaper comes for everyone, the lucky few get to go out on their own terms, but at this moment it seems like the Steelers future hall of fame quarterback will be yanked out on someone else’s accord.
But what do you think? Do you believe Ben Roethlisberger is playing himself out of the NFL? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.