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Thread: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB

  1. #1

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    Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB

    Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB

    By Dejan Kovacevic
    Published: Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Ben Roethlisberger looked about as down as I‘d seen him since that Super Bowl defeat in Dallas.

    Remember that?

    Yeah, less than two years ago.

    Must have felt like forever ago to most everyone involved with the Steelers‘ sickening, season-snuffing 13-10 loss to the Bengals — the Bengals! — Sunday at Heinz Field.

    And none more so than the $102 million franchise quarterback, who stood surrounded by media in an otherwise silent locker room, and absorbed the blame.

    Not part of the blame. That was last week.

    All of it.

    Listen to Roethlisberger describe what he was feeling: “Disappointment. Pain. Letting a lot of people down.”

    On throwing that killer late interception, his second in as many weeks: “Nothing to talk about. You saw it. I threw it to them.”

    On how a team with this much talent won‘t be going to the playoffs: “We should be ... if it wasn‘t for me.”

    Sounds dramatic and all, particularly that last line, but it‘s difficult to dispute.

    You know, I was behind Roethlisberger last week when, after saying “this is on me,” he proceeded to clearly criticize Todd Haley‘s playcalling. It‘s rarely healthy to air such things in public, but the Steelers‘ offense had become so stagnant that speaking up seemed reasonable.

    Besides, Haley‘s playcalling was terrible.

    It was terrible again Sunday, for that matter. It was laughably predictable — run, run, pass, punt — and unimaginative in utilizing the most dynamic players.

    One wonders what linebacker James Harrison might have meant after the game when he spoke of coaches needing to do a better job of “putting our players in position to make plays.”

    Think he was talking about the defense after the game those players had?


    On this day, though, not even playcalling loomed larger than the simple failure to execute, mostly by Roethlisberger. It‘s not just that he was 14 of 28 for 220 yards. It‘s that he took four sacks, failed to find open targets, misfired on two balls that could have brought six points each and, above all, threw those picks.

    The first came when he eyeballed Heath Miller across the middle but “didn‘t see” Leon Hall poised to jump the route. Touchdown, Cincinnati.

    That‘s on the QB.

    On the other near the end, Roethlisberger rolled right, saw Mike Wallace 15 yards upfield and tried to drop a softy into a tight space. The ball badly overshot Wallace — never easy but achieved twice on this day — and landed into the eager arms of the Bengals‘ Reggie Nelson.

    That‘s on the QB, too. And moreover, it‘s right out of the QB‘s treasured Ben-being-Ben portion of the playbook.

    Game over, season over.

    Here‘s a fair question: When was the last time Roethlisberger pulled off one of those NFL Films-type rallies, one of those that brought him — deservedly — his rep as a big-time player?

    Finishing off the Jets to reach that Super Bowl?

    It‘s enough to make you wonder not only where he‘s been but also where he‘s heading.

    Remember, this season was supposed to mark the start of a second phase, one in which he would do less scrambling, get hurt less often, survey the scene from the pocket. That‘s why Art Rooney II chased off Bruce Arians, and it‘s why the noted take-no-guff-guy Haley was brought in. They‘d reinvent their star player to save him and the Steelers for years to come.

    All of it failed.

    Yes, one could point to Roethlisberger‘s major rib injury as a pivoting point for his performance. But the cold fact remains that this offense never looked fluid. So to that end, Roethlisberger failed, Haley failed and, ultimately, Mike Tomlin failed for being unable — or stubbornly unwilling — to find other ways to make it click.

    Was Tomlin really OK with putting the Steelers‘ season in Jonathan Dwyer‘s hands?

    Because that‘s basically what they did Sunday, with Dwyer needing 14 carries to muster a molar-extracting 39 yards.

    This can‘t happen again.

    Roethlisberger remains the franchise. That won‘t change in the foreseeable future, and it‘s something all concerned need to not just tolerate but to embrace. The Steelers will have other issues going into this offseason, but that‘s No. 1. Tomlin has to look hard at why this offense never found any semblance of rhythm over 15 weeks with top-tier players at QB, tight end and wide receiver.

    And, I‘ll repeat here, he‘s got to be honest with himself as to whether Roethlisberger and Haley can coexist. Not just in niceties but meaningfully.

    This was Wallace‘s pointed assessment of how they coexist now: “You don‘t have to like the people you work with. He doesn‘t have to like Ben; Ben doesn‘t have to like him. But we‘re all on the same team, so we have to work together.”

    Until they do, get used to scenes like Sunday‘s ruining more Christmas Eves to come.


  2. #2

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    Madden: Ben's at fault, but he's not only one

    Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
    By Mark Madden

    Ben Roethlisberger blew it. Are you happy? It’s what you wanted, right? Enjoy the moment. Glory in it. Wallow in it. Bring up the bad past. Forget the good past. Call the talk shows. (Don’t forget mine.)

    Ben lost the game. He threw a pick-six. He tossed the interception that set up the Bengals’ playoff-making field goal at the game’s death. Ben played badly.

    This town hates star quarterbacks. You alienated Terry Bradshaw for years. You never pass up a chance to diminish Roethlisberger. Some of the rumors freely spread about past Pittsburgh quarterbacks can’t even be recounted here.

    You want defense. You want to run the ball. The Steelers’ president wants the same things, dictating such to the coaching staff.

    You got half-a-loaf at Heinz Field yesterday. The “Stats Curtain” defense went well beyond numbers, posting three takeaways, six sacks and six more tackles for loss. The Bengals averaged less than a yard per carry on the ground.

    The Steelers’ running game? Meh. Just 3.1 yards per carry. The saving grace was Rashard Mendenhall. You don’t like him, either.

    So, Ben blew it. You have that hatred to keep you warm all winter.

    Me? I’m still a Ben guy. I’m making fun of you, not him. Figure that out yet?

    Sure, Roethlisberger lost the game. He’s not played great since returning from injury two weeks ago. But the glory of his career rivals that of Bradshaw. I remember Super Bowl XLIII. I remember that pass to Santonio Holmes.

    If you don’t, that’s because you’ve always wanted an excuse not to.

    Be honest: The Steelers aren’t playoff-caliber. They’re poorly assembled, poorly coached and poorly managed. They’re a team that has trouble being led. This season has been an unmitigated disaster.

    The Steelers didn’t miss the playoffs yesterday. The Steelers missed the playoffs when they lost to Oakland, Tennessee, Cleveland and San Diego. Ben didn’t lose all those games.

    The Steelers missed the playoffs because they entered the season with a professional cripple as the No. 2 QB and a 37-year-old man at No. 3. Everyone remembers Charlie Batch beating Baltimore. What about the two games they lost (including one at Cleveland) while Roethlisberger was hurt?

    The Steelers missed the playoffs because the coaches mangled the running back position. Mendenhall is quality. When healthy, he never should have been benched, let alone scratched. He should have started and got the bulk of the work. Mendenhall proved it yesterday with 50 yards on 11 carries.

    The Steelers missed the playoffs because the “Young Money Crew” underachieved. Drops. Imprecise routes. Ego. The Steelers’ receivers are punks.

    The Steelers missed the playoffs because until yesterday, the defense rarely made plays. Yesterday was great. Yesterday wasn’t nearly enough.

    The Steelers missed the playoffs because of bad coaching. Game plans, in-game decisions and adjustments: It was all bad. Examples are too numerous to cite.

    And yeah, Ben played rotten yesterday.

    The Steelers have some big names that may be past their sell-by date. Their talent level is overrated, especially by management.

    The chaotic coaching must be sorted out. Yes, that includes offensive coordinator Todd Haley being a bad fit for Roethlisberger. How is Bruce Arians doing at Indianapolis? He didn’t retire after all, did he?

    The Steelers don’t need leaders. The Steelers need their younger players to accept leadership. To listen.

    The Steelers need team president Art Rooney II to leave football to the football people. He hasn’t. That’s where a lot of these problems started.

    More than anything, the Steelers need to admit their mistakes.

    That’s not going to happen.

    So get ready for empty platitudes, “the standard is the standard,” and the perpetuation of outdated philosophies and skewed priorities. It’s a quick-strike league, but the Steelers will keep attempting gradual suffocation. Being right will continue to be more important than doing the right thing.

    Get ready for 8-8 or 7-9 again next year. Maybe worse.


  3. #3
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    Humble pie Ben, you give 100% when you do it your way and half-arse it when you have to do it someone else's way. Yesterday, Ben ball lost the game for us. I am starting to realize that Ben is more self-centered than I ever thought he was, despite his "this one's on me" talk. If Tomlin is truly honest with himself, he must admit that Ben and Haley will never work. He's going to have to go find an OC that Ben is happy with or he will not perform because God forbid anyone else get the glory. Ben stumps for OL candidates, ala Willie Colon and Max Starks. Starks is workable, not stellar, but workable. Wiffy Colon, not so much. In either case, Ben got his way and the OL continues to stink. Ben loses his buddy OC and he pouts for a year over it. The facts are what the facts are, this team does what Ben wants or he doesn't perform. So Mike, go out and find Ben an OC he likes for next season and he'll step up his game I suppose. Keep those two old dinosaurs on the roster as backup QBs so Ben doesn't feel threatened. And keep the same old OL players that are about as effective as a screen door so Ben is happy with that too. Ben has gotten his way on a lot of these things and he lost yesterday so perhaps after eating the humble pie he might realize that getting his way isn't always best for the team, but probably not.

  4. #4
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    Too much individualism on this team, not nearly enough leadership to bring the "teamness" necessary for success. Not enough effective leadership from the head coach, or from the veterans left to take up the torch with the departures of Hines, Farrior, Smith.

  5. #5

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    I dont have answers right now but when searching for the root cause to create the corrective action so much points to what DB states here

    Quote Originally Posted by DukieBoy View Post
    Too much individualism on this team, not nearly enough leadership to bring the "teamness" necessary for success. Not enough effective leadership from the head coach, or from the veterans left to take up the torch with the departures of Hines, Farrior, Smith.

  6. #6
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    Mark Madden is a big a punk as they come - but that article of his nailed it.


  7. #7
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    Another great article . Madden hit the nail on the head. Rooney steping in has caused more harm than good regarding the offensive philosophy.

  8. #8

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    Cook: Loss leaves Big Ben in agony

    What's wrong with Big Ben?

    December 24, 2012
    By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    It's nice that Ben Roethlisberger stood up and took blame for the Steelers loss Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals. It's nice that he went to many teammates in the locker room to say, "I'm sorry I let you down." It's nice that he told the media later, "They need more play and better play from the quarterback."

    You expect nothing less from Roethlisberger.

    "That's what captains and quarterbacks do," Steelers safety Ryan Clark said.

    What you couldn't possibly have expected was that Roethlisberger would come up so small in such a big game. It wasn't just his interception in the final 24 seconds that led to the Bengals' 13-10 win or his interception in the first quarter that was returned for the Bengals' only touchdown. He was awful the whole game.

    A few questions:

    What has happened to Roethlisberger? He hasn't been the same since his shoulder/rib injury in the Kansas City game Nov. 12. The Steelers are 0-3 since he came back after missing 3 1/2 games. A week earlier in Dallas, he threw an interception that led to an overtime loss.

    Where's the old Roethlisberger, the one I've written many times is on his way to the Hall of Fame and is better than Terry Bradshaw? The one who routinely wins games in the fourth quarter or overtime?

    How do the Steelers get that Roethlisberger back?

    Roethlisberger, coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley -- if he's here -- will have extra time to figure it out during the offseason. The Steelers will play the Cleveland Browns Sunday at Heinz Field, but there will be no playoffs for a team that's every bit below-mediocre as its 7-8 record indicates.

    Who saw this coming?

    Clark was one of the final players Roethlisberger found after the game. The Steelers defense had a terrific day, holding the Bengals to field-goal drives of 19 and 21 yards.

    "I told Ben it wasn't all on him," Clark said. "It's never on one player because it's never all about one play ...

    "We just never meshed everything together as a team. When the defense played well, we needed the special teams or the offense to make a play and it didn't happen.
    There were other games when we as a defense didn't get it done. The Oakland game ... we couldn't stop them and they couldn't stop our offense. That's why we're in this position. We all contributed to this."

    The Steelers offensive line had a rough day. Roethlisberger took a fierce pounding and was sacked four times. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins, with 2 1/2 sacks, had his way with rookie guard David DeCastro.

    "Probably going to be tough to sleep tonight," DeCastro said.

    Steelers long snapper Greg Warren also had a breakdown. His low snap led to a failed 24-yard field-goal attempt by Shaun Suisham in the second quarter. You think the Steelers could have used those 3 points?

    "It's not just all on Ben," Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said. "It's not like he was out there by himself."

    Roethlisberger appreciated the support, but he knew better.

    "We did things to give us chance to win the game, but I blew it."

    The man is right.

    An interception by cornerback Cortez Allen on the first play of the third quarter gave the Steelers possession at the Bengals 32. The offense did nothing and punted. The Steelers got the ball back at their 46 with 3:18 left in the game after Bengals kicker Josh Brown was short on a 56-yard field-goal attempt. The offense again did little and Suisham was short on a 53-yard field-goal try with 1:47 left.

    Roethlisberger's two interceptions were especially hurtful. He never saw cornerback Leon Hall, who jumped in front of tight end Heath Miller to intercept a first-quarter pass and return it 17 yards for a touchdown. Then, on a second-and-5 play from the Steelers 29 with 24 seconds left, his pass for wide receiver Mike Wallace sailed high and was intercepted by safety Reggie Nelson, who returned it to the Steelers 46. The next thing you knew, Brown made the winning 43-yard field goal and Roethlisberger was apologizing.

    "I don't know what hurts more -- my body or my pride," Roethlisberger said.

    Actually, he did know.

    "It hurts the most right here," Roethlisberger said, tapping his chest over his heart.

    With that Roethlisberger limped into the late-afternoon darkness. That his nearly 5-week-old son, Benjamin Jr., was waiting for him at home and the thought of his first Christmas as a father did little to ease his agony.

    Roethlisberger came into the NFL in 2004 with the goal of leading the Steelers to five Super Bowl wins, one more than the legendary Bradshaw did in the 1970s. He has been stuck on two since Super Bowl XLIII after the 2008 season. This is just the third time in his career that the team won't be in the postseason.

    Roethlisberger will be 31 next season, his 10th in the league. He knows his opportunities are dwindling. It hurts that the team wasted one this season..

    "We should be [going to the playoffs] if it wasn't for me," Roethlisberger said.

    This is just a guess:

    DeCastro isn't the only Steeler who had a sleepless night.


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DukieBoy View Post
    Too much individualism on this team, not nearly enough leadership to bring the "teamness" necessary for success. Not enough effective leadership from the head coach, or from the veterans left to take up the torch with the departures of Hines, Farrior, Smith.
    On the "young" $.

  10. #10
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    Madden is right. The receivers are punk. Over-rated and hyped IMO. With the exception of Miller, of course - the best all around tight end in the league.


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