It is no mystery that Ben Roethlisberger is an elite quarterback in the National Football League. A quarterback that has played in three Super Bowls, winning two, is no fluke. His proven success has made him one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the league, and easily a top five in anyone's eyes.
I'm going to come out and say it. Screenshot this, print it out, and hang it up on your refrigerator:
If the Pittsburgh Steelers get a full season out of Ben Roethlisberger, they will be Super Bowl 51 champions.
Remember that you heard it here first.
There is no player more vital to the Steelers than Big Ben himself. Unfortunately, while extremely reliable, he is no stranger to injuries, as he has missed games in 9 out of the 12 seasons of his career.
The image above puts into perspective all of the injuries that Roethlisberger has racked up and it is only updated through the 2014 season. Throw in this past season's concussion and MCL sprain, and you have yourself a real life version of the Operation board game.
In today's NFL, filled with head-hunters and some of the strongest humans in the world, it is no wonder that a player with Roethlisberger's "never give up, never go down" attitude can easily accumulate injuries especially when you play in the AFC North. The fact that he has returned from every single injury, just as strong, is a testament to his toughness.
The 2015 season painted a perfect picture for Steelers Nation that showed just how significant Ben's presence on the field is. Between the concussion and the MCL Sprain, Roethlisberger missed four games (I'm disqualifying his "back-up quarterback of the year" game against Cleveland). The Steelers went 8-4 with him at the helm, averaging 28.4 PPG, and 2-2 in his absence, averaging 20.5 PPG.
The injury-riddled 2015 season also saw Le'Veon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey, DeAngelo Williams, and Antonio Brown all miss games on top of Martavis Bryant and Bell's suspensions.
But what's the difference? Without Roethlisberger, the Steelers lack the key ingredient of their high-powered offense. Heck, January's Divisional round playoff game saw Pittsburgh without their top wide receiver, center, and top two running backs; yet still, the Steelers were only one quarter away from taking down the soon-to-be Super Bowl 50 champions.
That is evidence of the remarkable depth that this dynamic, potent offense has developed. Influenced heavily by Mike Tomlin's "next man up" approach, there isn't a position on the field that I don't feel confident with if a man goes down except one. That comfort does not exist within the quarterback situation. Last season showed fans just how lack-luster and ineffective the offense looked with either Landry Jones or Mike Vick at the wheel. The backup quarterbacks were even fortunate enough to have the full arsenal in Bell, Brown, Wheaton, and Bryant, but still appeared fruitless.
No player's presence plays a more essential role in Pittsburgh's success than Ben Roethlisberger. It has been five years since the Steelers last Super Bowl appearance, and Big Ben has the hunger to get to 51. With the entire artillery, besides Bryant, returning this season, Ben will have all of his favorite weapons along with some new toys.
This dynamic offense is one-of-a-kind, and it's time they get the recognition they deserve in a Lombardi Trophy. If the Steelers can get a full season out of Roethlisberger, they will be Super Bowl 51 champions.