It did not take long for rookie guard David DeCastro to find this out.
After blocking for the top overall selection Andrew Luck in college, DeCastro found himself protecting one of the best field generals in the NFL. He told Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that it is not hard to block for a guy like that.
“You get in the huddle, everyone listens,” DeCastro said. “They’re guys you want to play for and protect.”
That is what it means to be a franchise quarterback—for him to be able to step into the huddle regardless of the situation and inspire confidence.
But besides watching the NFL Films season highlight video, fans do not get the opportunity to see what Roethlisberger brings to the team.
When it comes down to it, all that the fans care about are wins, and that is what Roethlisberger brings to the table.
Pittsburgh has been very good for a very long time. Since Bill Cowher was hired in 1992, the Steelers have made the playoffs in 14 of 20 seasons.
Despite making the playoffs in eight of his first 12 seasons as head coach, Cowher was never able to win the big one. The Steelers came close in Super Bowl 30 against the Dallas Cowboys, but three interceptions—including two by Larry Brown—ended their chances.
Following a 10-loss season in 2003, the Steelers drafted Roethlisberger in the first-round, and the course of their history changed.
Roethlisberger had a 13-0 regular season record as a rookie and led the team to the AFC Championship game. The following season, he helped Cowher finally win that elusive Super Bowl—the one that got Pittsburgh that “one for the thumb.”
The success continued under Mike Tomlin as Roethlisberger had an MVP-like performance in Super Bowl 43 and took the Steelers to another appearance in Super Bowl 45.
While it has not always been pretty for Roethlisberger, he finds a way to win games. In eight seasons, he has compiled an 80-33 regular season record and has had the Steelers in playoff contention virtually every season.
That does not mean that fans do not get frustrated with him. As with any player, there is bad that comes with the good.
Roethlisberger’s playground style of play leads to many unnecessary sacks—many of which are unfairly blamed on the offensive line—as well as the occasional boneheaded interception.
But all can be forgiven, as Roethlisberger is the greatest escape artist today’s game.
At 6’5” and 241 pounds, Roethlisberger’s size enables him to escape from many of the NFL’s toughest defenders, thus making him one of the toughest athletes in the league to defend.
Who can forget Roethlisberger escaping the grasp of Terrell Suggs to throw a pass away or getting his nose broken by Haloti Ngata? These are the plays that earn Roethlisberger respect from his teammates, the fans and his opponents.
However, he is now 30 years old and Roethlisberger is entering a new phase of his career with Todd Haley at offensive coordinator.
In order to stay healthy, Roethlisberger will have to change his ways to avoid more hits and stay healthy over the duration of the season.
With the weapons that the Steelers have, Roethlisberger could be in for an incredible season. He has excellent options at receiver and tight end and has a new dynamic running back in rookie Chris Rainey.
Come the regular season, we will see an offense built around Roethlisberger’s strengths but also some new looks. There will be shorter passes and safe throws to the running backs, but it would just be a Roethlisberger-led offense, if he isn’t running around the pocket looking to make a play downfield.
The Steelers offense will only go as far as Roethlisberger will take them and more importantly, the team will only go as far as he can take them.
Roethlisberger may not put up the fantasy numbers that Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady does, but there are few players that can make the plays under pressure like he can, and there are few players that are as important to their respective teams as Roethlisberger is to the Steelers.
Pittsburgh will be a Super Bowl contender in 2012 and in the future, as long as Roethlisberger is under center—he is that important to the Steelers’ success.
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