Even with three to four good years left, what’s next after Ben Roethlisberger?
This week GM Kevin Colbert said that Ben Roethlisberger has three to four good years left as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then comments from other quarterback connoisseurs such as former Steeler offensive coordinator and Cardinal Coach Bruce Arians came out that Ben is an elite quarterback who needs to be mentioned in the top three if not at the top. No argument here. Ben has been a top five quarterback for years. He is a proven winner and while he didn’t have the big yardage stats of some of his colleagues, it was not due to lack of ability. During the 2014 and 2015 seasons Roethlisberger put up incredible numbers and broke a couple of records while he was at it.
So the team has an elite quarterback who should remain productive through the 2018 season. Before the Steelers drafted their QB in 2004 the last top shelf guy they had, was Terry Bradshaw, who called it quits in 1983. So while they put out quality teams that consistently made the playoffs and competed for a Superbowl, they weren’t really set at the most important position for more than two decades. Pittsburgh went through trial and error as most teams do putting the best guy they had on the field behind center each year.
Wouldn’t it then make the most sense to start finding the next guy now? With Ben’s durability lessening each season and the inevitable coming, I would think his replacement will not be easy to find. The team probably needs at least five cracks at it and that’s if they’re lucky. The lower you pick in the draft the less likely you are to get a quality starting quarterback. The odds on finding Ben’s long term replacement are just that, long.
Obviously the team has more important needs but you can compete with a porous secondary, not without a good QB. Landry Jones is no more than a backup who hopefully can win some games if Ben gets hurt. There is no need for gadget quarterbacks who offer different skill sets to be brought in. There is no need for veteran guys who act like coaches to be on the sidelines because there are coaches for that.
Behind the starter they need a backup and then one or two guys they are grooming. How these QB prospects get there is not as important as how quickly they are evaluated and either cut or kept. It may be far-fetched to expect to find another elite quarterback in a year or even a few, but without a solid plan you may be waiting twenty.