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At 30, are Roethlisberger’s best years to come?

Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recently turned 30 years old. After eight seasons in the National Football League, Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to three Super Bowl appearances and two victories. This would be considered a pretty darn good resume by most experts and would be taken in a heartbeat by the vast majority of signal-callers in NFL history.

The casual football fan might think that the age of 30 for a QB means he is on the down-side of his career and for some that is true, but for many it was just the beginning of a great career. Roethlisberger has a chance to be one of those with great careers after 30 due to the right pieces being in place.

Take a look at the list of quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls at the age of 30 or beyond.

  • Bart Starr (2)
  • Len Dawson
  • Johnny Unitas
  • Roger Staubach
  • Terry Bradshaw (2)
  • Jim Plunkett
  • Joe Theismann
  • Phil Simms
  • Doug Williams
  • Joe Montana (2)
  • Peyton Manning
  • Brad Johnson
  • John Elway (2)
  • Steve Young
  • Mark Rypien

Of that select group above only Bradshaw, Manning and Rypien were at the age of 30 when they won a Super Bowl. Everyone else had eclipsed it when they won a Super Bowl.

So what does this mean for Ben? Who really knows in all honesty? Fact is that there are certain factors working both for and against his quest for another Super Bowl title. Here’s the breakdown;

Why Ben Wins Another Title

First of all, Ben has a receiving corps that if indeed Mike Wallace sticks around will be one of the best for a couple of more years. With Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller, Roethlisberger will have speed and good hands at his disposal. Furthermore, Mike Tomlin likes receivers. I can easily see one being drafted in April for double-duty as special teams’ guy and 4th or 5th option.

With new Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley coming aboard, Steelers’ fans can expect to see more balance in the attack which means less pressure on Roethlisberger and hopefully greater health. At the very least, look for Haley to work on Ben getting rid of the ball sooner which again means increased longevity.

Despite injuring nearly every part of his body, over his eight-year career, Roethlisberger has been incredibly durable. Even with a significant high-ankle sprain last season, Roethlisberger only missed one game. You could certainly argue that he probably should have sat for more but hindsight is of course 20/20. The Steelers have no choice but to upgrade the offensive line which should mean more time to throw and more time to stay healthy.

Ben also has what few quarterbacks in the league have from their owners and that is 100% support. The Rooney family could have easily parted ways with Roethlisberger following the events in Georgia a few years back, but they didn’t. Did financials play a part in that decision? Oh yeah, but so did the realization that there are few dominant quarterbacks in the NFL today and he is one of them. Ownership’s backing is vital and Ben gets it even if it does come with constructive criticism at times.

Why Ben Won’t Win Another Title

While one of Ben’s biggest attributes is his ability to play through nearly any injury, it may also be his ultimate downfall. How much more abuse can a guy who has been sacked so many times over eight years take? Kevin Colbert has a poor record when it comes to drafting offensive linemen so don’t be surprised if the Steelers once again try to do things with some Band-Aids and super glue along the front. Should they once again try this, Ben will be vulnerable.

Can the defense remain as strong as it has been during the career of Roethlisberger to this point? For the first time I have found myself really wondering just what Dick LeBeau has been trying to do with the defense which remains #1 in the League, yet has struggled in some of the most inopportune times (See Denver Wild-Card Game).  The defense is undergoing some critical changes along the front three and also in the linebacking corps so to say the unit will remain strong is unclear at best. Ben can easily win games on his own as we have seen, but as his age advances just how often can he do it?

I for one think the relationship between Roethlisberger and Todd Haley will be just fine. There are unfortunately many who believe this will not work and should it not, that means no way in hell does this team get back to the Super Bowl. I understand the feelings that some have in that Roethlisberger is the type of guy that doesn’t do well with change and that his relationship with Bruce Arians was a good thing. Roethlisberger is a competitor and he will rise to any challenge that Haley throws before him. If he doesn’t, don’t book any Super Bowl reservations.

From day one, Roethlisberger has never been a proto-typical NFL quarterback. He admits as much himself claiming that sometimes he resorts to “playground football.” That’s fine with me and 99% of Steelers’ Nation because we know the risks in the way that he plays and we are willing to accept them. Let us hope that the Steelers continue to move forward in rebuilding the offensive line and retaining the promising receivers we have. Roethlisberger has already kicked in the door to Super Bowl and NFL glory, but he may be ready to crash it at the ripe ol’ age of 30.

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