An NFL delay could be in Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger best interests
The start of the NFL 2020 season seems to be in doubt but could serve as an unwanted gift for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Since its format changed in 2002, the NFL has never been off schedule for its opening week, unless due to a political intervention (2008; 2012). The annual months-long anticipation has fans glued to whatever source of stream or TV available. However, the global pandemic has the start of the 2020 season in question, and as the risk may still be too great at the time, this could pay dividends into the Steelers’ future, primarily for QB Ben Roethlisberger.
“So far, so good”
As reported by Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, this would be the first words from Steelers GM Kevin Colbert when talking about Roethlisberger.
"“So far so good. All the indications from Ben himself, in communication with our doctors, our trainers, the video we have seen of him throwing earlier in the spring, are all encouraging. We haven’t seen him throw live because he hasn’t been in our building. He has only been there for rehab checks with our doctors and trainers. He can’t really physically get out on the field in this situation. This would be the time of year the players would be allowed to circle back in and begin their offseason programs. All of that is on hold. At this moment we just have to rely on what our doctors, trainers, and Ben himself is giving us and that is encouraging.”"
Relaying the emotions the Steel Curtain community felt when the video surfaced of Ben throwing a football again, encouraging can only be the response. Ben has been removed from the field since week 2 in 2019. It was heartbreaking to watch as fans & painful for Roethlisberger. In Ben’s own words “…the Seattle game, it got to be too much”.
However, on pace to recover from a not-so-entirely undisclosed injury that typically requires 4-6 months of rehab post-surgery, all things are pointing up to Ben & the Steelers for the 2020 season (if there is one). Feeling lighter than he has been in two years, without pain, and physically in better shape, than he has been leaving Colbert without worry.
Wherein Lies the Benefit?
Other than being on schedule with his recovery & back to throwing footballs, there’s an important note that Ben said in his interview,with Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “…I can take my time a little more”.
Although everything seems to be at a green light, this potential added off-time is a security blanket to the phrase “barring any setbacks”. Ben claims that in the past he typically never throws much in the offseason anyway, but dealing with an elbow injury on his throwing arm that has never occurred in his career at this age, brings a different element to it all.
In-game & constantly at that high-level speed, the environment is completely different as adrenaline gushes across the field. His current bill of health is something to praise about & will only keep getting better, but it’s merely preparing for the worse. This delay brings more rest that could benefit the assurance of his recovery & allow him more personal reps at a slower rate.
And if this doesn’t speak volumes to what Ben has done in recent seasons, considering he has bared through different variances of this pain, there’s no telling the level he can play at in the future. The NFL’s leading passer in 2018 & 3rd in QBR at 71.0, the clock for Ben may be ticking toward its end but he’s still able to perform as one of the league’s best.
8-8 and 32nd in offensive DVOA in 2019, the sky is the limit for where the Steelers could go with competent QB play. Once again, having to get acclimated to game-speed will be its own test, but being the 16-year veteran Roethlisberger is, things shouldn’t take long to click at all.
Of course, not having former Steeler superstar WR Antonio Brown on the outside takes away some sure firepower to this offense, but the added red-zone threat of TE Eric Ebron & an upcoming draft with a plethora amount of receiver talent that’ll be available from day 1-3, Roethlisberger still has his options.
The return should greatly benefit WR Juju Smith-Schuster, & WR Diontae Johnson is every bit of a slot player and more than a coach would want on their team. Add the deep threat of WR James Washington, if the Steelers were to add someone like as listed here, the offense could be close to what it was before.
2020 remains a nightmare for the world, a haze for the sport of football, but in the context of Ben’s recovery, it’s a blessing in disguise that should leave him no doubt of being 100% whenever things return to normal.