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Steelers Pro Bowlers know the challenge of replacing Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t just lose a quarterback, they lost a leader. Replacing that won’t be easy.

NFL: AFC Wild Card Playoffs-Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers head into the 2022 offseason without Ben Roethlisberger. Since 2004 Roethlisberger has been a mainstay within the organization, and the loss of their quarterback will go beyond just the play on the football field. One area which Roethlisberger’s loss will be felt is as a leader.

When you consider the returning talent on the offensive side of the ball, you have to wonder who will be the team’s leader on that side of the football. Will it be Najee Harris? Diontae Johnson? Or will the team bank on the potential return of JuJu Smith-Schuster?

This was a topic brought up by our own Geoffrey Benedict in the following article:

Either way, there is a gaping hole on the Steelers’ roster in the leadership department, and for the Steelers who made the Pro Bowl, T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson, they realize the challenge which lies ahead.

“You have a guy that was a constant voice in the locker room for 18 years and there’s obviously going to be some sort of void there and we need to fill it,” T.J. Watt said during the Pro Bowl’s festivities. “Obviously it’s going to be Cam [Heyward], myself and then we’re going to find a guy on the offensive side of the ball that wants that role as well. I feel very confident with the guys we have right now.”

When Roethlisberger departed the Steelers, he passed the torch to Heyward, and the 11-year veteran defensive lineman knows what this entails.

“Leading by example and making sure I uphold the tradition,” Heyward said. “When I first got here, I was trying to be a sponge and learn a lot. Now I have to do that for other guys. Just trying to help them realize what was set before…a hard-nose defense, opportunistic offense, seizing the moment, having good special teams.

“It’s a collective unit. That’s what the Pittsburgh Steelers have been about. That’s what it’s always going to be about even after my time.”

At this point, the Steelers will be looking to fill those voids, but it isn’t something which you simply hand pick. Leaders are not selected, they are born. Leaders are people who others naturally want to follow, not those who are forced into a situation.

The quarterback position is always considered to be the leader of every team, and the Steelers’ uncertainty at the position can be paralleled with the uncertainty in the leadership department as well. The defense is set, from a leadership standpoint, but the offensive side of the ball will need someone to step up and take the reigns as the leader of the group.

At this point, the job of offensive leader is open for the taking. Hopefully the organization has someone on the roster who is ready, and willing, to be that guy for the team moving forward.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for what could be a very crazy offseason.