Let’s call a spade a spade, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense has not been good here in 2021. A lot of the blame can be placed on the shoulders of the offensive line, but an equal amount can be placed on the back of the Steelers future hall of fame quarterback. In a lot of ways Ben Roethlisberger has struggled, his deep ball has been off, he’s throwing a lot of check downs on third and long situations, and he hasn't made many game changing plays we have become accustomed to seeing throughout his NFL career. On Sunday, at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, Roethlisberger will need to clean a lot of these issues up to keep pace in the AFC North.
The biggest thing Ben Roethlisberger needs to clean up is how he attacks position downs. In recent years, Roethlisberger has completely turned to throwing the intermediate route which would often move the chains. Now, frequently Roethlisberger is throwing a lot of crossing level routes or dump offs to his running backs. On early downs there's nothing wrong with this, however the Steelers receivers and backs are getting swarmed well short of the sticks on these third down dump offs. Roethlisberger needs to stretch the field and not just throwing go routes, he needs to hit more digs, posts, and outs. These second level throws, when completed, move the sticks and extend drives, and Ben Roethlisberger needs to hit more of them.
Speaking of the deep ball, it also needs to be mentioned more in depth. Specifically in the game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Roethlisberger tried dialing up a number of deep balls down the sideline. This would be great, however, the Steelers quarterback placed the ball much too far inside on a handful of these plays. Ben will need to either drive the football closer to the sideline or lead receivers more so they don't have to try to knock the ball down to avoid it from being intercepted. A deep ball over the middle of the field would also be a welcome change of pace. The Steelers have avoided deep stuff over the middle for three years now, and that needs to get fixed in today’s deep ball heavy NFL.
The last thing Ben Roethlisberger has to do is to stand in the pocket a bit longer. Yes, I realize he has taken a beating already this year, but this is one of the same problems from last year leaking into 2021. Roethlisberger needs to let his routes develop longer down field and allow the receivers to get separation. If he can do it, he will get hit more, guaranteed, but he will also be throwing at receivers with a bit more separation. It’s a risk that must be met.
If Ben Roethlisberger can turn some of these negatives around on Sunday I think the Steelers will have a great shot at winning the game. But if Roethlisberger continues to struggle, fans could be in for a very long 2021 season.
But what do you think? Will Ben Roethlisberger get it together in 2021 or even just for this game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.