Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why the Steelers treated Big Ben just fine this offseason

By Finesse

Since the Steelers' embarrassing loss to the Broncos on wild-card weekend, there have been some changes.  B.A., Ben's second in command, was forced to retire/fired. The fiery Todd Haley came in determined to introduce new plays instead of doing exactly what the Steelers had been doing under the guy they had just fired.  And Hines Ward and James Farrior were told, "Dayenu."  None of this has sat well with Big Ben, except for the Ward and Farrior departures creating a leadership vacuum that, you guessed it, Ben is eager to fill.

"Hold the line, Men! Hold the line!"
We agree with Dejan Kovacevic's column yesterday saying that it's time for Ben to stop talking about it and just get on board with Haley.  But we disagree that Ben was ever justified in being upset with how the Steelers "treated him" this offseason.  After the jump, let's break down the perceived slights that Kovacevic cites...

1. Art Rooney suggested that Ben needs to "tweak" his game to avoid the constant pounding and stay healthy.

Art Rooney owns the team.  He pays Roethlisberger over $100 million dollars -- he can say whatever he wants.  And even if you think the owner should stay out of football, this wasn't really even about football.  It was about protecting his asset.  The motivation behind Rooney's "tweak" comment was not disappointment in Roethlisberger's talent or ability, it was to get him to stay healthy so that Rooney could keep paying him $100 million dollars.  Here is the GTOG translation of what Rooney said: "Ben, we love you as our quarterback, but please try to be more careful out there.  We don't want you to get hurt.  Oh, and if you get hurt, we'll cut you and stop paying you."

Ben shouldn't be upset that the owner is showing concern for him.  He should be upset that his wife, parents or agent didn't do it first.

2. Ben is upset that the Steelers fired B.A. after 5 years as offensive coordinator.

Can you imagine?  A team having the nerve to fire an assistant coach that just led a unit that finished 12th in total yards, 21st in scoring, can't protect the quarterback, and can't pick up a 3rd and 1?  Unconscionable, I know.

The myth that the Steelers have a high powered offense is hurting the team.  At times, they really do.  But at other times -- more times than most people realize -- the Steelers, particularly Ben, leave a maddening amount of plays on the field.  And if you blame the 21st ranked scoring offense on Ben not being healthy for the last few games of the season, see #1.

3. The Steelers hired Todd Haley without Ben's input.

Think about this for a second -- is there any decision in the entire world that you think you would be better equipped to make if only you had BEN ROETHLISBERGER'S input?  I can't decide whether to get a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage ... Ben, what do you think?

"Hard to low is the fixed rate?"
I know that star players often get input on coaching decisions, and some of them should.  But Ben is not your ordinary star player.  He makes horrible life decisions and horrible decisions on the field.  If he were consulted on an offensive coordinator, here's what he'd say: "Can you just snap it to me, I'll run around for 18 seconds, sprain my ankle, then chuck it up to Mike Wallace?"  Ben is not what you would call a "thinker" of the game.  He needs his hand held, and sometimes his wrist slapped.

We like Ben.  We're glad he's the Steelers' quarterback.  But the notion that he's in the Brady, Manning, or Rogers class -- three guys Kovacevic cites in his column -- is just not true.  Ben has had great success on the field, but it comes in a vastly different way than those guys.  They know what they're doing on the field; Ben just does things on the field.  And last time I checked, those guys didn't smash their head through a windshield and get accused of sexual assault (twice).

If you would be comfortable giving Ben more power over the Steelers' personnel or coaching decisions, you may want to consider the tactic he's taking when it comes to Todd Haley.  By basically saying that it's too hard to learn Haley's offense, Ben is proving he isn't that bright in either of two ways:  1) he's just being honest in saying that he doesn't understand what's going on (it's football, not Mission Control); or 2) he's intentionally setting himself up as too dumb to understand the playbook.  Is that something that Brady, Manning, or Rogers would do?


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