Ben Roethlisberger: Why Steelers QB Will Dominate AFC North in 2012

Kyle StanzelCorrespondent IIIMay 30, 2012

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

While he may not always get the "elite quarterback" tag that the likes of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers receive, Ben Roethlisberger has proven year in and year out that he is one of the most reliable guys to have under center.

Sure, he may cause Steelers fans to have the occasional heart attack on their couches as he scrambles all over the field, but Big Ben has provided us with two Super Bowl rings already and there's no reason a third can't come in 2012.

Roethlisberger will go into training camp with a clean bill of health, something that rarely be said about him during the 2011 campaign when he battled through a sprained foot and that gruesome ankle injury he suffered against Cleveland.

Many of Roethlisberger's injuries over the past couple of years have been a direct result of poor blocking by a very shaky and often jumbled offensive line. He has been sacked 122 times during the past three seasons alone and has been in the top three in that category two out of the past three years.

The Steelers front office addressed this problem in a big way during the 2012 draft by obtaining the best guard in this year's class, Stanford's David DeCastro, and first-round talent tackle Mike Adams in the second round. Both rookies should see starting time right out of the gates in 2012 and give Pittsburgh one of the better young offensive lines with All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey and emerging tackle Marcus Gilbert.

Now Roethlisberger will have plenty of time to find his two Pro Bowl wide receivers, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. Wallace caught a career-high 72 balls in 2011, amassing 1,193 receiving yards along with eight touchdowns. Brown had a breakout sophomore season, catching 69 passes for 1,108 yards while also playing a big role in the return game.

As these two electrifying wideouts continue to improve, Big Ben will continue to wreak havoc on opposing defenses through the air.

While Roethlisberger and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley maybe didn't get off to a good start, it appears that all this drama is over now, according to Roethlisberger. Meanwhile, on the football field Haley will bring a renewed focus to the run game, which will open up the play-action pass that Roethlisberger excels at so well. Imagine how easy it will be for Wallace and Brown to get open downfield when the opposing defense is so focused on the run.

While Cincinnati and Cleveland showed vastly improved defenses in 2011, each ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in yards allowed per game. Roethlisberger and the Steelers showed that they could handle the Ohio teams as usual without missing a beat.

While Baltimore's defense will be stout as always, you could almost hear Pittsburgh fans dancing in front of their televisions when the news broke of Terrell Suggs' ACL tear. No player has been more effective at harassing Roethlisberger with the outside rush than Suggs the past couple of years, and his absence is a huge loss for an aging Ravens defense. 

Another aspect to Roethlisberger that can't be overlooked is the off-field drama that he has had to endure over the years. Between that horrific car accident and the two lawsuits against him, Roethlisberger has seen more than his fair share of the dark side of the media.

It appears that all of these distractions are behind the 30-year-old quarterback. Roethlisberger is now a happily married man and has shown his skills in the classroom by returning to college and earning his bachelor's degree

With a revamped offensive line, a pair of Pro Bowl receivers, a fresh effective offensive attack and a clear mind, a healthy Roethlisberger is ready to take the Pittsburgh Steelers to a place nobody has been to more times than he has since he was drafted: the Super Bowl.