Big Ben changes attitude for one final Super Bowl push.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have walked the same path over the past few seasons. They start the season strong, sitting atop of the division, but once the games become more important, they fail to show up to the occasion.
Players such as Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown played a critical role in the team’s offense but left town a season apart from one another. Both players left because of the same person, Ben Roethlisberger. The relationships split the locker room, intensifying the drama to new heights.
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Ben Roethlisberger returned for what seems to be his final season in the NFL. However, he came to camp with a different attitude than years prior. There is only one thing on his mind, one more Lombardi.
The most recent example of his selflessness came during the TJ Watt hold-out. Roethlisberger made comments to the media about the situation, sticking up for his teammate. Roethlisberger pleaded with the front office to give the man what he wanted; they listened.
How does this new attitude make the Steelers contenders?
The Steelers lost a few key players over free agency but replaced Bud Dupree with Melvin Ingram and drafting Najee Harris to pair with Anthony “Lil Boogie” McFarland. The offensive line may not be as stalwart as teams before but still, rank as a top line in the league.
Roethlisberger needs to take a step back and lead the team differently. He displayed it by walking into training camp, appearing to spend the offseason in the gym rather than the fridge. At almost 40 years old, Roethlisberger cannot throw it nearly 50 times a game like a decade ago. Instead, he needs to rely on others around him.
The Steelers receiving core contains a lot of top-tier talent with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson. Last season, Johnson launched himself up a few tiers, while JuJu played his worst season in his career. He signed a massive hometown discount over the offseason; he could not leave Pittsburgh on such a sour note.
Big Ben has had a polarizing personality throughout his career. Still, he knows he must put it aside if the team wants to make a serious push towards another Super Bowl appearance. They have the pieces but have to put them together. Mike Tomlin can help with that.
Do Roethlisberger and Tomlin need to be on the same page?
Mike Tomlin receives more credit than given. He has not had a losing season since becoming head coach. He almost made the playoffs with starting three quarterbacks in a season, even starting Duck Hodges for a spot in the postseason. The past few seasons have hurt his reputation, but not in my eyes.
Tomlin knows how to control egos, which is half the battle of coaching. He has been able to control Big Ben’s for over a decade; it’s time the two work as one. The two won a Super Bowl before. So how come they haven’t been able to do it again?
*Don’t say Tom Brady*
The Steelers have a lot of talent on both sides to make a deep postseason push. Big Ben has seen the light, guiding him to become the leader the team needs. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that teams win Super Bowls, not players.
The Steelers need to start acting like a team again.