John Steigerwald's Sports Column
Steelers’ offense needs more than Roethlisberger
“The Steelers will be fine as long as they have Ben Roethlisberger.”
I wish I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard that in the last nine or 10 months. I could pay for those new seats in Heinz Field that Art Rooney II wants.
Here’s another good one: The Patriots will be fine as long as they have Tom Brady.
Who’s kidding whom?
Not all quarterbacks are the same, and a few can make a mediocre team good, but no quarterback is good enough to help his team win no matter what.
Roethlisberger is playing for a team that had trouble scoring touchdowns last season, and he’s playing without two guys who combined for 16 of them. Tight end Heath Miller and departed wide receiver Mike Wallace each had eight.
He’s also playing without Matt Spaeth, the tight end who was brought in to hold the fort until Miller comes back from major knee surgery.
The more you see of Emmanuel Sanders, the man who is supposed to pick up Wallace’s slack, the more ordinary he looks, and it’s beginning to look like dropping passes is what he does best.
Five minutes into last Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, Roethlisberger was taking snaps from a guy who has never been a center and was playing there because Maurkice Pouncey was out with a season-ending knee injury.
Roethlisberger’s new running back’s name is By Committee, and that’s never good.
Roethlisberger is playing without key players who helped the team go 8-8 and not make the playoffs last year.
How are the Steelers going to be alright?
Against Tennessee – the team that gave up the most points in the NFL last season – the Steelers scored one touchdown and nine total points.
Roethlisberger was sacked five times, and the Titans weren’t intimidated by him. In fact, it might have been the other way around. After the game, Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said, “You could see it in Ben’s eyes – he wanted to get back to that locker room pretty quick.”
If players keep dropping around him, getting Roethlisberger to come out of the locker room might become a problem.
It’s ridiculous to think that any quarterback can overcome what has happened to the Steelers’ offense since last January.
• Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes Thursday night for the first time since the Bush 43 administration, and he showed quite a bit of frustration on national TV. His Patriots almost lost to the New York Jets and their rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
Brady had the best tight end tandem in NFL history last year. One is out for a few weeks with an arm injury. The other is probably in – prison, that is – for the next 50 years or so.
Brady also lost his favorite safety valve, Wes Welker to free agency.
Brady’s not going to look like the same quarterback this season. The Patriots are 2-0 but they struggled to win close games against two teams with rookie quarterbacks. And they’re not, “Going to be alright as long as they have Tom Brady.”
• You have to give Steelers fans credit for being patient. It wasn’t until about the middle of the fourth quarter of Game 1 that Twitter and the talk shows were filled with people calling for head coach Mike Tomlin to be fired.
If precedent means anything – and nowhere does it mean more than inside Steelers headquarters – Tomlin won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
Bill Cowher missed the playoffs three years in a row (from 1998 through 2000), going 7-9, 6-10 and 9-7. He made up for not paying enough attention to his job by hiring two bad offensive coordinators and ruining a quarterback.
Even if Tomlin misses the playoffs the next two seasons, he will only tie Cowher’s worst three years. And remember, the last time the Steelers had a head coach go through a rough stretch, they kept the coach and fired the general manager.
Tomlin’s not going anywhere.
• The Steelers and the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority will be meeting over the next few weeks to find a solution to the dispute over who will pay for those 3,000 new seats at Heinz Field.
Your friends in Allegheny County should hold on to their wallets.
In a preliminary ruling, a judge sided with the Sports and Exhibition Authority in the lawsuit filed by the Steelers. Now, it appears that the Steelers are looking for a compromise, which means, getting the government to confiscate other people’s money so that it can be given to them.
When was the last time the Steelers didn’t get what they wanted from local government?
• I’m shocked by the allegations in a Sports Illustrated story about improprieties at Oklahoma State University. Football players being paid. Academic fraud. Sex for recruits.
I thought it was all about the lure of Stillwater, Okla.
John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.