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Pittsburgh Steelers Need to Build Around Ben Roethlisberger, Not Change Him

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Aaron NaglerNFL National Lead WriterMarch 28, 2012

Meeting with reporters yesterday for the first time since the day after his team's playoff loss to the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin addressed comments made by Steelers president Art Rooney from this past January, in particular Rooney’s belief that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger needs to “tweak his game” to avoid taking so many sacks.

Tomlin responded to this notion with the following:

Ben is Ben.

That is some Jedi-level stuff coming from Tomlin right there, saying so much by saying so little.

Attempting to read between the lines, Tomlin is sending a not-so-delicate message to management here: I’ll take care of the football side of things. Thanks.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Tomlin is 100 percent right: Ben is, indeed, Ben. Trying to change how he plays the game is just about the worst thing you could do to a Steelers team that is in a rare, for them, stage of transition.

There’s a new offensive coordinator, who the star quarterback may or may not get along with, there’s an aging and changing defense, and there’s a growing perception that the team is in need of new leaders to emerge.

If I’m Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and Tomlin, I do everything I can to build around Roethlisberger, not change him. The Steelers are currently in the midst of kicking the can down the street when it comes to the salary cap.

While they are doing that, they need to draft well and try and surround their franchise quarterback with a new offensive lineman or two and possibly a running back to take some pressure off the signal-caller. 

People who want to point to Roethlisberger’s play down the stretch and in the playoffs last year as evidence of his need to change his game are completely off base. It’s clear he was hobbled by his injured ankle and nowhere near himself.

I tend to agree with NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal that in terms of his play at the position overall, Roethlisberger had one of his better seasons in 2011.

A healthy Roethlisberger, coupled with a few more pieces on offense, will go a long way to getting the Steelers back in familiar territory: in the Super Bowl race. 

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