This past offseason, I wrote a post that listed the quarterbacks in the league who could be tagged as franchise guys—players you could build a team around.
And I left Ben Roethlisberger off of the list. My email inbox here at the NFP filled up with messages from Steelers and non-Steelers fans telling me, well, that I was an idiot. They said Big Ben needed to be on the list with Peyton, Brady, Palmer, etc.
But, I, like most, don’t think about Roethlisberger in those terms because we take him for granted. We expect him to play well, we expect him to make plays in the pocket and, overall, we expect him to win.
And right now, that is exactly what the Steelers are doing behind Roethlisberger and a defense that is once again looking like the best unit in the league. The Steelers have rattled off five wins in a row, and I swear they are the quietest defending Super Bowl champions of all time. Yes, the 1-2 start made us question if they could make it back to the postseason, as has the hot start by the first-place Cincinnati Bengals.
But, after watching this team play again on Monday night and physically whip a very good Denver Broncos football team, I have no doubts that this team is primed again for a bigger run. They can compete with the Colts, the Patriots, the Bengals and the Ravens—who they still have to face twice down the stretch of the regular season.
And I really like their chances because they can go all the way to Miami with Roethlisberger—and the weapons around him on offense.
Rashard Mendenhall has completely taken over for Willie Parker, and Hines Ward is having a Pro Bowl season, in my opinion. We know Santonio Holmes can play, and the rookie, Mike Wallace, is averaging over 17 yards a catch. Furthermore, as an offense, they are averaging 382 yards per game—good for fifth in the league.
But, it starts and ends with Roethlisberger. He is a gamer, and the more I watch him play, the more impressed I am with not only his command of this team, but the respect that opposing defenses show towards him. I am starting to wonder how you prepare for this guy as a defensive player, because the play is never over when he has the ball. He creates so much time for his receivers that as a defensive back, you can’t take a second to look into the backfield—or you are beat. And I am starting to love his game.
An MVP candidate? Probably on the outside looking in because of the seasons of other quarterbacks such as Brees, Manning and Favre, but he should at least be in the discussion, right? He has thrown 14 TDs for a 6-2 team. Regardless, this is a guy with two Super Bowl rings already and someone I am not going to take for granted—nor should the rest of the league. Because this team with Big Ben is good enough to go to Miami and win it all—again.
And it’s led by a guy most likely to move up on my list this coming offseason.
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Check out the Steelers Team Page at the NFP.