Ben Roethlisberger has been an elite quarterback for most of his 13 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He owns every passing record in franchise history and has won two Super Bowls. Unquestionably, he will be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee. Roethlisberger, in 13 plus seasons, has passed for 48,081 yards and 307 touchdowns. He has a career record of 126-62-0. Roethlisberger is 13-7 in the postseason, throwing for 4,787 yards and 25 touchdowns. His super power is never giving up, with 29 fourth quarter comebacks, and 39 game winning drives as proof. He’s looked old though during his first five starts this season, including Sunday’s five interception loss at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Admittedly, he hasn’t looked great in his other four games either. No doubt Roethlisberger’s decline is hard for some to accept, but time waits for no man, including “Big Ben”.

Ben Roethlisberger’s Decline Is Undeniable

Roethlisberger contemplated retirement this past off-season, following 13 years of punishment and injuries. Many assumed the retirement talk stemmed from  emotions following the Steelers AFC Championship game loss. It’s important to note that Roethlisberger didn’t talk about retirement voluntarily.

The subject came up while answering a question regarding off-season plans, during his appearance on 93.7 The Fan. Roethlisberger knows the end is near, because retirement isn’t far behind when the retirement talk begins. The erosion of his skills is becoming more evident each game. He’s capable of leading the Steelers to a Super Bowl, but not in the manner he’s used to doing it. Roethlisberger is more game manager than gunslinger at this stage of his career.

“I’m not playing well enough…Maybe I don’t have it anymore”

The criticism of this Roethlisberger post game quote is a bit ridiculous. Interpreting it to mean he doesn’t care about executing plays is borderline insane. Make no mistake about it, nobody cares more than Roethlisberger. He suffers failure as much as anyone, hating losses more than he loves winning. Roethlisberger is right though, he doesn’t have it anymore, not the way he has done it in the past. He has to reinvent himself. Despite Roethlisberger’s decline, the Steelers won’t win the Super Bowl without him.

Antonio Brown believes Roethlisberger still has the ability to lead this team. He stated as much, during his post game press conference, when asked about his quarterback.

“He’s a competitor, he’s a general. He’s going to come to work this week with a lot of intensity”

Another reporter asked Brown if everyone will rally around Roethlisberger, or let him do his own thing?

“He’s our general. We’ll rally around him good or bad, obviously we know It’s gonna be more good. It’s not all his fault today. A couple of balls I left out there, I thought I could have jumped and got that last one”.

Roethlisberger’s Decline: A Man’s Got to Know His Limitations

Todd Haley helped Roethlisberger reinvent himself once already, and he can do it again. Haley’s work with Kurt Warner led the Arizona Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. It’s ironic that it was Roethlisberger’s magic that snatched the Lombardi Trophy from their grasp. Roethlisberger and Haley must determine what his remaining strengths are. Then they need to cater the game plan and play calling to take advantage of them.

Big Ben is gone forever, but there’s still plenty left for Haley to work with. Roethlisberger’s remaining assets include his arm strength and knowledge of the offense. Give Roethlisberger complete autonomy over play calling. Let him run the no-huddle offense when he sees fit. It’s the quickest way to get Roethlisberger into a rhythm, and get the offense rolling.

Conclusion

The Steelers need the best version of Roethlisberger they can get with eleven games left. Haley needs to make that happen. The Steelers need Roethlisberger to reach their ultimate goal. Furthermore,  Roethlisberger needs Haley to recreate the magic for him that he created for Warner. If not for his last minute touchdown strike to Santonio Holmes, Warner would have retired a champion. The Steelers window of opportunity could be very small if this is  Roethlisberger’s final season. Hopefully Haley can get the job done this time and help him retire a champion.

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