Editorial: Big Ben’s Decline, Part 1 by Jason Havelka
After leading his team to a 30-9 loss Ben Roethlisberger, renowned drama magnet came out and made a statement that shook Steeler Fans to their core. “Maybe I don’t have it anymore.”
— Jason Havelka (@PghFoodnSports) October 9, 2017
If you watch the entire video, Ben is visibly frustrated and pissed off. He threw 5 interceptions including two pick 6’s which were on tipped balls and he was forcing throws left and right. He questioned his own NFL mortality in the offseason by weighing retirement. I believe the one thing that brought him back was all the talent on the offense this season. Unfortunately for him, that talent is not doing him any good right now as he is completely out of sinc with that same talent.
For those that want to say that his play on Sunday was just a one-off, look back at his last 12 games. Including that ugly game yesterday, he has thrown 16 interceptions in that same time period. It has been a while since we have seen Ben look like what Steeler fans are used to seeing. Many want to blame not having Martavis in the offseason and getting Bell back late in camp. Also on a Offensive line that has struggled more than expected.
While I believe all of that can throw a team off, by week 5 most of the rust should be shaken off. Instead, it looks like he is getting more desperate each and every week to make plays. Almost as if his own internal clock is ticking loudly. There is no doubt he is dialing up his own pressure, but unlike in years past I do not believe he is in the right place or maybe frame of mind to snap out of this.
While most of my writing team thinks I am over reacting, I think the trend we have seen in the last few seasons with his road woes and now laying the gold egg at home with a 30-9 loss is more than just a trend now. That loss, similar to the other this season can be laid directly at his feet.
Clearly the decline is visible which I believe puts this Steelers team sitting at 3-2 in a precarious position. We have seen Greats go out and be game managers in their last season or two and if Ben is going to make a run at a Championship, that is what is going to have to happen. With that said, in those cases like Manning’s last season, they had a WORLD CLASS DEFENSE to fall back on. This defense is far from that.
Although the offense is still very talented, if he does not have the ability to make the throws that he is used too, the Offensive coordinator needs to be able to dial their game back. They need to put together a plan of attack that can win a game and not just beat up struggling teams at home. They need to beat good teams at home.
Pittsburgh ran the ball yesterday with purpose in the first half, then Ben decided it was time to air it out. When he did that, the secondary was ready to feast. Especially after the first pick 6.
At 3-2, and leading their division what I am about to say may sound crazy.
If they are going to salvage the season, they will need to take a good long look at the play calling and change the system to what Ben can do well. They need to remake this team and system around a run first offense and run the wheels off of Bell and Conner. They can then mix in the pass and players like AB and Bryant need to understand if they want to win, this will need to be how it happens. This is how his career started, and if they are going to win, that is how it will need to end.
I was in a discussion with a couple of Steelers fans yesterday one of which included a relative, the other on follower on Twitter. Both partially blame where Ben is right now on the Media and how he has to answer for all the AB stuff and his own issues of course. They talked to me about how that part of the game has changed. While I understand the local fans are frustrated to see their favorite players in a decline, and blaming anything else other than the player here is off base.
Ben gets paid to play NFL football which is driven by dollars earned by media companies. Ben does a radio show. Several players are doing their own shows on the radio and openly mix with the media. The Media is there because the fans care so much. The NFL is still the most popular sport in this country by a country mile. If the fans did not care so much, the media would not be there, and the players would not make the dollars they currently are. Which would have meant that Ben probably would have retired this year.
There is always a chance that he could snap out of this and turn back the clock one last time. He has historically excelled in situations where drama that he dialed up is at the forefront. With that said, I am not convinced this is of his own doing. I believe from what I have seen in the past couple of years and what I saw yesterday, this is what a quarterback in decline looks like. Many refer to this as “hitting the wall.” I believe this is what we are seeing.