Monday, December 24, 2012

Steelers' Playoff Hopes Dead After Loss to Bengals; Trade Roethlisberger for Kirk Cousins?

By Finesse

The Steelers' season came to a fitting end yesterday after a game full of sustained incompetence, inexplicable coaching, and a legacy-impacting stink bomb from Big Ben.  We will have full analysis on our podcast tonight, but here are a few quick thoughts.

- Roethlisberger emptied his entire arsenal of "This one's on me" after the game yesterday, and that's how it should be.  Not only was he mediocre during his best moments yesterday, but looming over him the entire game was the one question that, when lingering, is often the kiss of death for quarterbacks: when is the backbreaking interception coming?

First quarter:

And moments before the interception on the game-losing 4th quarter drive:

Gone are the days when you could arguably include Roethlisberger in the discussion of "which QB do I want down a score in the 4th quarter?"  It's not like he's bad now -- I'm still glad he's the Steelers' quarterback -- but his resume is increasingly filled with "what ifs?" and "this one's on me."  What's most frustrating about all of this is that despite the two Super Bowls he already has, he is the only reason that he doesn't have more.

Remember the three picks in the 2004 AFC title game? Remember these stats from 2006: 75.4 QB rating, 18 TDs, 23 interceptions, 8-8 record?  Remember the three picks in the wild card loss to the Jaguars?  Remember the five game losing streak and no playoffs in 2009? (Yes, Dennis Dixon lost one of those games).  Remember that the six games Roethlisberger lost in 2009 were decided by 3, 3, 6, 3, 3, and 7 points? Remember the heinous pick-6 against the Packers in a Super Bowl the Steelers lost by 6 points?  Remember the horribly discombobulated 2-minute drill the Steelers butchered at the end of that game?  Remember the three sacks he took on the final 4th-quarter drive against Denver in last year's playoff game that kept the Steelers from getting in field goal range?  And remember the game-losing plays this year to Denver, Dallas, and now Cincinnati?

And remember this?
And remember this press conference?
And remember this press conference?
There's arguably an excuse for every one of these games -- injuries, bad offensive line, "he put them in a position to be there in the first place" -- but the fact remains that the negatives are adding up.  Two Super Bowls is potentially a hall-of-fame career, and even the best QBs don't win the Super Bowl every year.  But the "he left plays on the field" cliche is ever more applicable to Roethsliberger.  The Steelers will only go as far as he takes them.  Unfortunately, he limits himself.

None of this is meant to denigrate what he has accomplished, which is incredibly impressive.  It's just to say that no longer does the conversation about his legacy begin and end with "That guy's a winner."  It may still begin that way, but there's a "but."

- Obviously, the Steelers shouldn't trade Roethlisberger for Kirk Cousins, or anyone for that matter.  That's something we call the "Recoil Test" -- the best measure of a player's worth is your gut reaction to suggestions for trading him.  And I threw up on myself typing that headline.  So, yes, let's keep Ben.

- The Steelers' defense was very good yesterday.  We thought all along that the defense would be the downfall of this team.  What a shame that it now seems like another year of a good defense wasted.

- Having said that, like the playoff loss to Jacksonville 5 years ago, maybe this loss is a blessing in disguise.  Going 7-9 is a lot less damaging to the team's legacy than losing 45-14 in New England in the first round of the playoffs would have been.

- We will break down all the implications of the Steelers loss on tonight's podcast.  Make sure to watch for it.


  1. No doubt in my mind that the Steelers need to draft the QB of the future in the spring. Ben was average this year, no confidence in him at all. Forget about the fact that he's not likable. Feel like he could benefit from having a legitimate QB behind him pushing. He isn't going to last forever either and there is nobody being developed behind him. It is a joke that there was actually a time this years where an announcer said the words "Charlie Batch pass to Burress incomplete". Embarrassing.

    /end rant.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I wouldn't go that far yet. Roethlisberger is still definitely good enough if he has the right pieces around him, so while he's in this stage of his career the better move is to invest in surrounding him with better players. A beast offensive lineman and an impact defensive lineman (who can get to the QB) would be a start. Unfortunately, save for James Farrior, the Steelers don't sign many free agents.

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