Could Steelers give Ben Roethlisberger the ‘Eli Manning’ treatment?

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7). Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7). Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /

I never thought the Steelers would consider benching Ben Roethlisberger, but could he receive the ‘Eli Manning’ treatment after another dismal performance? 

Towards the end of his NFL career, Eli Manning really started to show his age. In 2018, Eli started all 16 games and threw for 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while earning a respectable 4,299 passing yards on 7.5 yards per attempt.

However, the following season would be the last for the former first overall pick. In 2019, Manning started the first four games earning just 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and leading his team to a record of 1-3 before Daniel Jones took the reigns.

Two years later, Ben Roethlisberger finds himself in a similar decline. After a respectable first half of the season in 2020, Big Ben’s play seems to have rapidly declined. Through 3 games in 2021, Ben has led his team to a 1-2 record while managing just 3 touchdowns on 130 pass attempts to go with 3 interceptions and just 6.2 yards per attempt.

The Steelers don’t have a young, promising quarterback waiting in the wings. However, with how poorly Ben Roethlisberger has played to begin the 2021 season, could Pittsburgh give him the Eli Manning treatment?

Could Steelers bench Big Ben?

Logically, you could certainly make a case for Roethlisberger getting his starting job revoked. While the offensive line remains a huge issue for this Steelers team, Ben has been atrocious to start the 2021 season. In fact, you could argue that he’s been worse than any non-rookie QB so far this year.

According to advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference, just 54 of 130 passes Roethlisberger has thrown have been on target this year (41.9 percent). This number is way down from 76.4 percent last season. While this is only one statistic, almost any metric you want to use supports the fact that Roethlisberger is in a steep decline.

However, nothing beats the eye test. While some Steelers fans would like to pass the blame along, we all know that this is no longer the same Big Ben we have come to know and that the end is very near. Statistically, Roethlisberger has struggled much worse to begin the 2021 season than Manning did prior to being benched in 2019. So could he lose his starting gig?

Personally, I feel that this is unlikely. I went on record before the season saying that Roethlisberger will not lose his job this year, no matter how poorly he plays. However, I have a bit less confidence in that statement right now as Ben’s performance reaches a new low.

No matter how he looks on the field, the Rooney’s are going to want to preserve his future Hall of Fame reputation, and I don’t think this franchise would ever force him to take a back seat.

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We all know how valuable Ben Roethlisberger has been to this franchise. He’s part of what helped make the Steelers one of the NFL’s most winning teams. Unfortunately, the clock is running out very quickly on the former star quarterback, and I’m curious to see if he could get the ‘Eli Manning’ treatment.