We all knew this was coming, Ben Roethlisberger was going to say something at the Pro Bowl this week in regards to the Bruce Arians retirement/release/”I had to leave” situation. As was reported this morning by the Pittsburgh Trib, Ben had this to say about new change coming at Offensive Coordinator:
“When I get back, I’m going to go up to Mr. Rooney’s office and ask him what he wants from me, what he wants from this offense, because I think that’s a viable question for him,” Roethlisberger told the Tribune-Review on Thursday following an AFC practice at Hickam Air Force Base. “He’s our owner and our boss, so I really would like to know kind of what he wants and where he sees our offense going because I’d like to tell him where I see us going.”
“We feel like we are really close to being an elite offense,” Roethlisberger said. “For your leader to be gone is kind of a shocker, but you’ve got to be ready for whatever the Rooney’s and coach (Mike) Tomlin decide it our next step.”
“Change is always different,” Roethlisberger said. “It doesn’t mean it’s good or it’s bad. You just don’t know yet. I think the (Steelers’) mind was made up, and B.A. was kind of ready to move on as well.”
Does Ben have a right to question the direction the of the offense, sure! He’s the leader on the field and a leader in the locker room. Players believe in him and his proven ability to win in adverse situations. It’s well known that Ben is not happy that his long time coach is gone now. That’s change in the NFL, it happens. When you read his comments you get the sense that he may be more upset than people think. Roethlisberger is not one to talk to give the media a lot to chew on, most of it is left up to speculation if anything. He’ll give you the politically correct answers, supporting his team responses, and generally try and avoid any media frenzy’s if he can. That may very well be the case in this situation as well, perhaps the Steeler Nation and the media is reading too much into his comments.
What most would have probably rather heard from Ben was something along the lines of, “It’s a bit of a surprise sure but I know the Rooney’s have the best intentions of getting us back to a Super Bowl so if they think, along with Coach Tomlin, that this was the best way to go then we’ll support that decision as players and move forward”. OK, perhaps that’s a bit too politically correct but I think you see where I’m going with this. Perhaps that is the case, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Antonio Brown also said that he talked to Roethlisberger about it: “I talked to (Roethlisberger) about it, but some things we can’t change. All we can do is focus on what’s upcoming, the new guy, ready for him to come in, learn his game plan and ride together so we can win football games.”
When I read that, it seems to me that Brown is trying to help Ben come to grips with what’s coming. Change is never easy, but it’s a necessary part of life. Roethlisberger mentioned that he felt they were close to having an elite offense. Never finishing better than 9th in the league during Arians tenure as coordinator is hardly elite. You can blame the offensive line if you like, blame the play calling, blame the injuries, blame the performance of players on the field. It’s not one of those, it’s all of those reasons. It won’t be easy for Ben to deal with a new coach whether it’s now QB Coach Randy Fichtner or not. He had the luxury of having complete autonomy over the game plans and the plays in the playbook for the offense. He may or may not have that anymore now. If the team does promote from within it will certainly be easier for Ben to handle because of the familiarity he has with Fichtner but you just have to wonder how long it will take to get past not having Arians around anymore.
We’ll never know what was really said in that chat with Art Rooney II and Big Ben when it does happen, let’s just hope Ben embraces the change sooner rather than later, instead of fighting it.