I have all sorts of thoughts about Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
Everywhere Big Ben goes, I’m sure he’s hearing that he doesn’t need to screw up the Steelers, who went 3-1 without him despite the NFL’s last-ranked passing attack. Everywhere he turns, he’s being encouraged not to do too much.
When I met with Roethlisberger leading up to the game against the Browns, I told him that I had been watching him closely since college (I live 45 minutes away from Miami University), and ever since I’ve watched him, he’s always pushed the game. He’s always extended plays, allowing his receivers to uncover and take advantage of when coverages break down late during plays.
I told him that’s where I think he’s at his best. His response? “Absolutely.”
Roethlisberger doesn’t think of himself as Michael Jordan, but you can’t ask Jordan to play any other way. Roethlisberger feels the same, and said he needs to play the way he plays. He told me the Steelers don’t need to run more, but run more effectively. He feels the Steelers can win playing the way they played last season.
Watching Roethlisberger against the Browns, I saw him doing exactly what he’s always done — holding the ball, extending the plays, and living on the edge. I think the Steelers have known since they won Super Bowl XLIII that they can win with Roethlisberger’s style of play.
In talking with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, he’s not going to pull the reigns on Roethlisberger. They want Big Ben to be Big Ben. I think we saw that in the game yesterday, and it was a wonderful thing.
Big Ben being Big Ben is what the Steelers need, and it’s what they want. What the Steelers also want and need to do is be able to run the ball more effectively, and close out games in the final four minutes on the ground. That’s when they want the running game to take over.
The Steelers won’t ask Roethlisberger to change what he does. They allowed him to do that Sunday, and that’s why they were able to win — with explosive pass plays. With Roethlisberger back, don’t expect the Steelers to be the NFL’s last-ranked passing team.
— Solomon Wilcots
Follow the NFL Network on Twitter @nflnetwork.