“Sacked & Yellow”

You can’t mention the last decade of Pittsburgh Steelers football without bringing up the name, Ben Roethlisberger. He was drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft when the Steelers selected him with the 11th pick that year. He came in during a week two game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2004 and since then, the organization hasn’t looked back. Ben’s had a nice run in Pittsburgh. I remember his rookie year like it was yesterday. The Steelers won every game Ben started in 2004 and had the top record in the AFC at 15-1. The year after, he helped lead the Steelers as a six seed in the AFC playoffs and led them to a victory in Super Bowl 40 in Detroit over the Seattle Seahawks. In his later years, he’s dealt with injuries and we’ve wondered how much longer he has. He’s still been able to play at a high level at an advanced age because he’s simply put the work in. There’s some unfortunate news coming out of Pittsburgh though. Yesterday against the Seahawks after making a pass, he immediately grabbed his elbow in discomfort. Today, the news was reported that he would need surgery to repair his UCL otherwise known as “Tommy John surgery” which will force number seven to miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

The one thing that’s really improved with Ben over the years is his passing. He’s become very high volume and connects with anyone if they’re open. I don’t think he’ll ever lose the arm strength. The first thing people always talk about is how big this guy is. He’s 6’5 and weighs 240 pounds. That’s the size of some defensive linemen, but here he is playing quarterback. A pass rusher can think he has a free hit on him all they want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll go down and he’s always been known to keep the play extended. He’s an excellent escape artist. If you get a hold of him, you must wrap him up to take him down. Grabbing his jersey only allows him to slither his way around and escape. Over the years when describing Ben, I’ve often stated he’s played with the 3 S’s which I will explain for you. The first s stands for size which was mentioned up top. He’s an enormous guy playing a very important position and he’s done it well for a large portion of his career. The second s stands for speed. For a guy his size, he has solid footwork and speed to move away. He isn’t blazing fast like Michael Vick once was or any other mobile quarterback that’s played, but he moves well enough to get yards with his feet when he needs too. The last s is strength. He’s a very strong man and it literally takes the entire village to bring him down because he doesn’t go down without a fight. I’ve seen guys grab him by the legs and he’s still moving or making a pass even with defenders all over him. As I said a few sentences ago, if you seriously don’t have him wrapped up, he’s gone, and the Steelers probably have a first down. Many of his peers will be the first to tell you he’s arguably the toughest quarterback to sack for obvious reasons. His intellect of the game has also improved over the years and one moment I immediately think of is a game last season when the Steelers played the Bengals. With the game on the line, he saw that Cincinnati was trying to bring everybody on an all-out blitz. He made his changers at the line which sent Antonio Brown in motion and he ran over the middle. Ben got the ball to him quickly; AB goes to the house and the Steelers are winners. He saw the field was going to be open and he attacked. That’s what the great quarterbacks can do. Adjust on the fly.

It’s crazy to refer to Ben Roethlisberger as an elder statesman of the NFL now. It just seems like yesterday he was coming into the league as that guy that nobody could pronounce his last name correctly. He’s been successful during his time in the NFL. He’s won two Super Bowls, he’s the youngest quarterback in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, he’s led the Steelers to the playoffs several times and he’s also got that clutch gene that many don’t discuss. I’ve often described his style of play as “backyard football”. It’s Mason Rudolph’s time to shine. This will be a good experience for the Steelers because this will tell them if Mason is their guy to replace Ben moving forward whenever he decides to hang it up and call it a career. I’m wishing number seven a speedy recovery.