Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004 in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and since Week 3 of that rookie season he has been the quarterback of the Steelers franchise. As the Steelers now look forward to the 2014 season, it is finally time that the team looks to build around Roethlisberger, something they haven’t done during his 10-year career in the NFL.
When Roethlisberger was leading the Steelers to AFC Championship games and winning Super Bowls it was always reported that the Steelers won despite Roethlisberger, not because of him. For whatever reason, the general perception was one that never gave Roethlisberger the credit he was due, and the front office echoed that sentiment.
When Roethlisberger developed a sturdy relationship with wide receiver Plaxico Burress the Steelers let him walk. Free agency can do that to teams, but when Roethlisberger requested the Steelers try and find a taller wide receiver in the draft or free agency, media outlets reported that Roethlisberger wasn’t happy with his current wide receivers because they were too small. Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El both had to deny reports that there was a rift between the quarterback and the wide receiver corps.
The organization has never listened to their star quarterback in terms of his input on and off the field. When Bruce Arians was the quarterback’s best friend and offensive coordinator, the organization forced him into retirement and brought in the polarizing Todd Haley to take his place. Beyond the coordinator, the coaching staff has never even trusted Roethlisberger to run a no-huddle offense outside of the two-minute drill — until this season.
The team finally put some trust and faith into the quarterback, and he responded with a stellar season for not only him but also wide receiver Antonio Brown and rookie running back Le’Veon Bell. The offense’s success since moving to the no-huddle offense cannot be denied. This success should trigger a change within the organization. That change is not only trusting their quarterback, but also to start putting the pieces together around him that can make him and the offense even more dynamic.
The pieces have already started being put into place for the Steelers offense to morph into a no-huddle threat within the NFL. Rookie Le’Veon Bell has proven that he is not only an every down running back but also a back that can catch the ball and be a threat in the passing game. Wide receiver Antonio Brown has not just become a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but he has become a threat within the offense that makes every time he touches the ball a chance to take a pass the distance for a touchdown.
The Steelers cannot stop there; they have to try and make the offense even more versatile. Heath Miller is one of the best all-around tight ends in the game, but if the Steelers could possibly draft a more athletic, pass catching tight end it would only free up Miller more and give Roethlisberger another threat. With Emmanuel Sanders likely to leave via free agency, the Steelers need to figure out if Markus Wheaton will be ready to take his place on the outside or if someone could be brought in via free agency to possibly take his place. Jerricho Cotchery is set to be a free agent this offseason, and the Steelers would be crazy to allow the wide receiver with 10 touchdown passes to find a job anywhere but in Pittsburgh.
However you slice it, Roethlisberger is in the prime of his career and it is time for the Steelers organization to finally have him as the centerpiece of an offense that could be record setting for years to come.