After a promising Week 1 victory over the Bills in Orchard Park, the Steelers have lost two in a row. And the struggles that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went through in the second half of last year have persisted into the 2021 campaign, leading some to wonder if Pittsburgh will bench its franchise icon.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, head coach Mike Tomlin is not considering a QB change — yet. La Canfora adds that the decision to make or not make such a move lies solely with Tomlin, who will not face any pressure from ownership in that regard. But Tomlin could be feeling pressure from other members of the organization, many of whom reportedly believe that a change is essential.
The Steelers started the 2020 season 11-0, and while that always felt like a bit of a mirage, Roethlisberger’s performance was at least good enough to support the club’s suffocating defense. The six-time Pro Bowler posted QB ratings of at least 98.7 in eight of his first nine games, but things went south after that. Over his final seven games, including a disastrous wildcard loss to the Browns, Roethlisberger’s rating eclipsed 100.0 only once, and his inability to push the ball down the field was a big reason for that.
As La Canfora observes, Roethlisberger is barely averaging six yards per pass attempt in his last eight contests. Plus, his lack of mobility is not only making it difficult for new OC Matt Canada to run the type of offense he wants, it is also exposing the holes of a suspect O-line and making life more difficult for the running game.
Backup Mason Rudolph has not exactly lit the world on fire during his nine professional starts, but he might at least be a better fit in Canada’s scheme. So while Roethlisberger’s job is safe for now, the 39-year-old may need to show a significant improvement to avoid being benched during Pittsburgh’s Week 7 bye.
He and the Steelers will try to get back on track in a difficult matchup against the Packers at Lambeau Field this afternoon.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.