Bleacher Report recently released an article listing the biggest risk each NFL team is taking in 2020. For the Steelers, it’s betting on Ben Roethlisberger’s health.
I think most of us would agree that there are very few people more responsible for wins and losses on a football team than the starting quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger missed 14 games for the Steelers last season, and they went 8-8 in his absence.
There may be a few exceptions to this. Bill Belichick is no doubt makes as big of a difference in the win/loss column than anybody (we will test that theory with Jarrett Stidham at the healm for the Patriots this year). But for the most part, teams live and die by the quarterback position.
When it came time for Bleacher Report to list the biggest risk every NFL team is taking in 2020, it’s not hard to get on board with Kristopher Knox’s selection for the Steelers. According to Knox, Pittsburgh’s biggest risk is Ben Roethlisberger’s health. Here is some of what he had to say:
"Ideally, the return of a healthy Ben Roethlisberger will restore some balance in Pittsburgh and return the Steelers to playoff contention. The problem is if Big Ben cannot rediscover his pre-injury form, the Steelers could be looking at another lost season… This should be a very real concern, as Roethlisberger is 38 years old and coming off major elbow surgery. Yet, Pittsburgh did virtually nothing to improve the depth behind him. Instead of going after a proven veteran like Cam Newton or Andy Dalton, the Steelers brought back Rudolph, Hodges, Paxton Lynch and practice squad QB JT Barrett."
This is something we all should agree on. After watching the dismal performances of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges last season, it was evident that neither quarterback was capable of holding down the fort and keeping the Steelers a Super Bowl contender. Even with a terrific defense on their side that finished top six in points allowed, yards allowed, yards per play, and takeaways, Pittsburgh’s backups proved to be below replacement level.
Steelers ignored proven veterans in free agency
By letting players like Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton be signed to extremely reasonable contracts without even putting up a fight, the Steelers are clearly banking on the healthy of Ben Roethlisberger this season.
So far, things are going according to plan. The 38-year-old quarterback posted a video to Twitter last month showing him slinging the pigskin to JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, and Ryan Switzer. Though the video showed just a few throws, the fact that Roethlisberger finally cut his hair and trimmed his beard is something he promised he wouldn’t do until he could make NFL-caliber passes.
But this isn’t to say that Big Ben won’t be injured at all in 2020. Roethlisberger played in all 16 games just 4 out of his first 16 seasons, so the odds are stacked against him being healthy all season this year. Though he may not miss a ton of time, the difference of a few games in the NFL could make or break the Steelers sesaon. Leaving those in the hands of Mason Rudolph is something that most fans don’t want to witness this year.
The Steelers are on track to be a very competitive team and a legitimate contender this year with Ben Roethlisberger calling the shots. However, it’s possible that Pittsburgh is putting too much stock into his health this season.