The Steelers have had some bad luck recently. It seems no matter what the organization does, bad things continue to happen. Each day Ben gets older the window closes, and the stairway to seven may be dying by a thousand cuts. Ladarius Green is the latest.
So the Steelers are finding themselves in a difficult position. They have everything necessary to win a Super Bowl. What more can they do? What more can they fix? And yet, the stairway to seven appears to be an escalator, the one that goes down.
The Steelers signed Ben Roethlisberger to a 5 year deal worth a minimum of 99 million dollars last year. The reason for this is that Ben Roethlisberger is and always as been the key component of Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl ambitions.
The Steelers can win without Brown, Bell, Pouncey, anyone on the defense. Without Ben they’re not the same team. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is on the field the Steelers can potentially win any game, regardless of the odds. So the signing was obvious. But it was also done with purpose.
The Steelers have ambitions for another Super Bowl ring, stairway to seven as they say in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have 5 years to accomplish this. Even despite the contract, Ben, like all of us, is getting older every day. And every year that goes by, every sack Ben wearily but inevitably rises from, the Steelers come closer to the Super Bowl window closing.
Once Ben leaves, or ages out of his current skill level, the Steelers will most likely start all over. They might end up drafting a Steve Young, but it’s more likely they’ll spend several years rebuilding after Ben leaves. Todd Haley’s offense is keeping Ben off the ground, but there’s no offensive scheme that can fend of time.
So each year is absolutely critical for the Steelers. With Peyton Manning, his skill level dropped off precipitously from 2014 to 2015. You never know when time will deal its haymaker.
But the Steelers can do no more to surround Ben with the right support. They have the best wide receiver in the league, the best running back, the best center, probably the best guard and probably the best offensive coordinator. They’ve poured many high round picks into their defense to keep the other end held up.
The perfect Super Bowl team the Steelers have constructed just can’t seem to make it all onto the field. Between injuries and suspensions and all manner of nightmare, the Steelers cannot seem to catch a break. And as we mentioned, waiting is not an option.
So, in that context, it’s just extremely frustrating that there has been rumors that perhaps the biggest free agent signing since James Farrior, former Chargers tight end Ladarius Green, is injured. His presence on the PUP list is about par for the course, but there’s more to the story.
NFL Media Reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala reported on Thursday that Ladarius Green was experiencing recurring headaches. This, rather than his ankle surgery, is why he has not joined the Steelers yet this offseason. His agent has also been saying his ankle is “fine.”
Green had experienced a concussion at the end of the 2014 season, and then two within the span of two weeks last year. However there were reports that he was misdiagnosed. And Mark Kaboly of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reminded us that just this spring Green said it was just sinus issues and his head was fine.
Tomlin recently told Chris Adamski of the Tribune-Review, “He’s on PUP because of his ankle. We stated that. He’s rehabbing nice. He’s gotten better in that area, but he’s not ready to go. I’m not going to respond to reports from unnamed sources.”
When pressed Tomlin insisted that it was the ankle that’s keeping him on the PUP. The reports nonetheless leave open the possibility that the Steelers have to cut Green. Best case scenario might be learning the offense during the season. Worst is Green never gets to suit up for the Steelers and an entire offseason worth of planning goes out the window.
Plays were being drawn up for Green. Matt Spaeth was cut. No effort was made to replace Bryant or retain Miller. Green was going to be a vital part of this offense, particularly in the red zone which is the offense’s only weakness. But that could all just disappear weeks before Game 1.
It’s just another cut in the death by a thousand cuts the Steelers have experienced lately. Le’Veon Bell has been suspended twice and got injured before the playoffs, twice, by the Bengals. They also lost Brown last year in the playoffs, Bengals again. Roethlisberger was injured twice last year, one costing multiple games, once by the Bengals.
But it’s not just the Bengals, intentionally or otherwise, taking out Steelers stars. As I said, Bell has been suspended twice. Martavis Bryant has been suspended twice. Maurkice Pouncey missed a whole season. Ryan Shazier is seemingly constantly injured. Every cornerback they try to draft for the last 5 years has injury problems.
There are many other injuries but it’s not all injury and suspension. The Steelers missed the playoffs in 2013 because of a bad call in week 16 in a game they weren’t even playing in. Then there’s the constant cap issues dragging the team down.
The Steelers are not rebuilding. They’re built. They just constantly need repairs. There is some hope though. Roethlisberger still has 4 more years on his contract. The way this year is going we can almost chalk it up to a loss. But then the Steelers will have to resign Bell and a number of other significant players. Recall the cap problems. Their strength pulls focus from their fragility.
The Steelers are a Super Bowl caliber team. They have been for years. But you play for rings, not preseason power rankings. A Super Bowl team on the roster doesn’t mean much if you can’t keep a Super Bowl team on the field.