There’s been much to analyze this offseason for the Steelers, and quite frankly over analyze too. Amidst all of the Ben and Haley comedic rhetoric to the more serious issue of player cuts and restructures, was the comments of Art Rooney II on Ben Roethlisberger needing to “tweak his game”.
That alone has been worth an exponential amount of discussion among every member of the Steeler Nation. What does “tweaking” mean, are the Steelers going to run more, is Mr. Rooney not happy with Ben’s game, what does Ben think about it? We finally got some answers from the man himself courtesy of a recent interview by Teresa Varley at Steelers.com, when she sat down and spoke with Big Ben.
One of the things covered in their chat; those very “tweaking” comments which by now have become almost infamous.
When you say tweak your game, what do you see yourself needing to do as far as tweaking it?
Just stay healthy. That is it. Just stay healthy and you can stay on the field. I think I can help us win games if I am on the field and I am healthy. I hurt us when I am not healthy, the San Francisco game. That is the most important thing to me, making sure I am staying healthy.
Of course, Ben staying healthy will go a long way towards the Steelers success. After all, this team has been built around him on the offense, he is what makes it go. All the speed at receiver doesn’t do you a bit of good if you don’t have a quality quarterback throwing the ball to them. Now yes, you can win some games here and there with a backup like Charlie Batch but everyone knows the Steelers will go as far as Ben will take them.
I have to believe though that there was something more said in that meeting too, that the topic of Ben hanging onto the ball came up to some degree.
When you first heard Art Rooney say he wanted you to tweak your game, what went through your mind?
Absolutely nothing did. I knew I was going to come in here and talk to Mr. Rooney anyway and I would hear it right from the horse’s mouth. We had a good chuckle about it. He said ‘Ben we need to make sure you stay healthy. We need you on the field.’ If anything, that was a compliment.
We’re not going to beat that dead horse here, but part of Ben staying healthy revolves around not only his being in shape but also the offensive line and finding ways to get the ball out of his hands quicker. It’s just how it is, if you want to keep your quarterback from having a dirty jersey at the end of the day, you get rid of the ball quickly, have an offensive line that can block consistently, and a solid run game. That’s not to say that Ben is “broken” or “needs fixed”, but rather it goes beyond the just staying healthy, to evolving your game as you get older.
Everyone will play a part in Ben “tweaking his game”. The receivers getting into their routes quickly and getting open for example. If they do that, perhaps Ben doesn’t have to hold onto the ball so much. The offensive line has block for him, it’s as simple as that. Perhaps if they did so, he wouldn’t have to run for his life and make so many plays on the run. Wait a minute you say, if the line blocks better he’ll want to hang onto the ball even longer! Well, that’s true to a degree. If he’s not escaping pressure, he can sit in the pocket and wait for a play to develop but the key is that he’s not getting hit as much. Isn’t that we’re all hoping he avoids this year in the end?
I’ll be honest, part of Ben’s game that I enjoy the most is his ability to make plays on the run. You can’t take that away from him completely but I would prefer if he’s going to do it, use it in a more deliberate, designed fashion. When you have him rolling out, you have a specific set of reads that can be acted on within seconds or you throw the ball away. Todd Haley will have his own set of ideas on how the offense should run and Ben should play quarterback. As long as those two can find the common ground, things should be fine with the tweaking, the longevity of Ben’s career, the balance on offense and everything else that Ben spoke about in his chat with Ms. Varley.