The Steelers were missing their star quarterback last season. Here’s why JuJu Smith-Schuster insists that Ben Roethlisberger is ‘back.’
Nothing in football makes a difference on the field quite like the quarterback position. Though Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s play has faltered a bit into his mid-to-late 30s, there is still a big gap between him and the alternatives.
Last year with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges at the helm, Pittsburgh’s offense finished 30th in the league in yardage, while both quarterbacks ranked in the bottom three of qualifying passers in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.
Fortunately, Big Ben is back and rearing to go, and nobody is more adamant about his return that Steelers wide receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster. The former Pro Bowl receiver, who dealt with injuries during the 2019 season, insists that Ben is ‘back.’ Here’s what he had to say on Good Morning Football, according to NFL.com’s Nick Shook:
“Honestly, I think it’s going to be a big year for us. “I was very happy with the draft picks we got, being able to draft a running back, being able to draft (Chase) Claypool. Good defense. We already had a solid defense. Our missing piece was Ben. I think coming up this year, it’s going to be a great year for us. … Just wait. Honestly, I just gotta say just wait and let our pads do the talking. You’re getting a version that we all expect that he will be at. He’s back. He’s doing what he’s doing. He’s throwing NFL passes, there’s nothing more to that…”
Smith-Schuster made no mention of Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow or that he has been taking it easy throwing the football. Rather, JuJu stated that ‘he’s back’ and ‘throwing NFL passes.’
Roethlisberger initially promised not to trim his beard until he was capable of making NFL-caliber throws, and that is something that he is apparently able to do now, as evidenced by the video he posted to social media.
The Steelers already possess one of the league’s most talented defensive units, and despite the loss of Javon Hargrave this offseason, there is plenty of reason to believe that they will be among the league’s best units again in 2020.
As far as the offense goes, Roethlisberger will be a major improvement over both Rudolph and Hodges this season. Despite his age (38) and surgically repaired elbow, he should prove to be able to take the league’s 30th ranked offense from a season ago, and at least make it an average unit this sesaon – assuming he can stay healthy.
It remains to be seen how Ben’s elbow will hold up throughout an entire season, and Roethlisberger has finished 16 games just 4 times in his 16-year career. However, if he’s healthy throughout the season, the Steelers should be able to earn one of the seven playoff spots in the AFC this year and make a solid run at a Super Bowl title.