It's time for Tomlin to be a Head Coach!
So you read that and you say, what? He's already the Steelers Head Coach! As a title, yes he's the coach butwhen it comes to managing Ben Roethlisber, not so much.
Big Ben is no doubt a top 5 QB in the NFL today, and has been for several years now. You don't get to 3 Super Bowls in your first 7 years in the league, and win 2 of them, for nothing. His big play ability is among the best in the league, right up there with Brady, Rodgers, and Brees. His ability to make something out of nothing though, that puts Ben in a class all by himself. I challenge any of those other 3 names to play behind the tin foil offensive line that Ben has had to play under his career, and be equally as successful.
We can go on and on about how good Ben is, how tough he is, but the fact is he underachieved in 2011 when you compare him to the other "big 3" as I like to call them. It's not for a lack of weapons; Roethlisberger has Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Hines Ward, and Heath Miller to throw too. Arguably one of the best receiving corps in the league today.
Is it the running game? He's got one of those too, although due to the poor offensive line it hasn't been as efficient as the team would like. Also the offensive philosophy for this team is to pass and get down field, and use the run game as a compliment. The coaches will tell you different but the fact is the Steelers are a passing team, we all know. So basically Ben is a great QB, we all know, he's got the firepower around him but something is still missing...a coach to keep it all under control.
So onto the topic at hand, if Mike Tomlin wants to lead his team to another championship his management of Ben has to improve. You can't sit back and let the doctors tell you what to do when he gets hurt. If they say, "well he probably won't get any worse" or "he should be ok, he's tough" or anything of that nature you don't just throw up your hands and say "ok Ben you can play this weekend". You certainly take the doctors advice into consideration, after all the Steelers have one of the best team doctors on their staff, Joseph Maroon. Their training staff headed up by John Norwig is considered top flight as well. Tomlin routinely talks about leaving it up to the medical staff to decide, and that's fine to a certain extent.
If Ben can't do what he does then you simply don't play him. If he's going to refuse to change his game and be who he is then you don't put him out on the field when he can't escape pressure, put weight on the bad ankle to step into throws, or be able to shake off a 260 lb. linebacker rushing up the middle. In hindsight, playing Ben against the 49ers was a bad move, so was playing him in the Cleveland game. The 49ers relentlessly harassed Ben on their home turf and he was powerless to escape it. The Browns can bring pressure too, and they did so continuously.
I know an improved seed in the playoffs was at stake against San Francisco, but was it worth reinjuring your star QB? You already had the playoffs sewn up, and maybe a more healthy Ben performs better down the stretch if you sit him. The same goes for the final game of the season, if you trust Charlie Batch to play against the Rams then you trust him to play against the Browns. Tomlin needs to stop listening to Ben when it comes to these types of injuries and just be the Head Coach and sit him on the bench. It's not worth risking long term health for 1 game, regardless of the stakes. The Steelers paid the price, and no it wasn't all Ben's fault but if he's healthy then maybe things are different the rest of the way? If you remember back in one of Tomlin's recent press conferences he stated that he doesn't want to take the away the chance for Ben to compete. Well, that's your job, to make that call when it's not in the best interest of him and the team. The same can also be said for Maurkice Pouncey who's ankle injury should have warranted a spot on the sidelines in week 17, and then maybe he's able to come back against Denver.
The point is, Mike Tomlin has areas to improve in, such as his game management and Ben is a part of that scenario. His use of timeouts or other situational decisions are another story but when it comes to Ben, Tomlin needs to be the head coach and make the tough call.