Pittsburgh Steelers: How Big Ben Can Win Three Rings in Eight Years
Since 2004, Big Ben Roethlisberger has been the quarterback of one the proudest franchises in the NFL. In that time span, he set rookie records, won two Super Bowls, and has established himself as one of the toughest quarterbacks in the game.
Furthermore, his ability to lead game winning drives, coupled with three trips to the Super Bowl, has led some to speculate he is one of the top five best quarterbacks in the game and a potential Hall of Fame candidate.
While all of this debate continues on, CBS Sports has reported that Ben feels he has eight more years left in the league, which would give him a sixteen year career, quite an achievement for any player.
Yes, while Ben's body may not hold up to eight more years of beatings, the question is now can he join Montana and Bradshaw and join the four time Super Bowl champions lounge? Even more intriguing, could he be the game's first five time champion?
While it is extremely unlikely that this could happen, the Steelers are one of the few teams with enough stability and commitment to make this goal even thinkable. So assuming that the Steelers surround Ben with quality talent (a relatively safe bet), what does Big Ben need to do to assure he can not only last eight more seasons but win three more rings?
1) Play According to His Body
Right now, Ben is 29 years old. Based off of the new training of athletes, a player's prime at the quarterback position in terms of athletic ability is capped at the 32 year old mark at most.
Essentially, Ben only has 1-3 more years of playing with the same strength, recovery and speed that has enjoyed over his career.
As Ben ages, he must learn how to either get the ball out of his hand quicker or take a sack with grace instead of waiting for a "in the grasp whistle" that never comes or being piled drived by Terrell Suggs.
This may prove to be the most difficult adjustment for Big Ben as his career moves on.
2) Don't Fear a Balanced Offense
This past offseason, both Bruce Arians and Ben have said they wished the team passed more during the season.
Apparently, a 12-4 regular season record, a trip to the Super Bowl, and defeating some of the best defenses in the playoffs with a balanced attack isn't cutting it for the two offensive leaders of the Black and Gold.
In the league today, while the spread offense may be "in", the reason teams like New Orleans and the Patriots make it work so well with almost no known receivers is because of a balanced attack.
The spread uses the pass to set up the run instead of using the run to set up the pass. Look at what happened to the Saints when they lost running backs throughout the year. The Patriots offensive machine got stopped by a tremendous performance by the Jets' front four who stopped both the run and Tom Brady's protection.
Ben needs to relax and realize a balanced attack is what will succeed in this league.
3) Trust in the Receivers
Ben may last eight more years, but Hines Ward won't. Hines may not even two more and this posses a huge hurdle for Ben.
When the coverage is good and Heath is used as an extra blocker (very necessary unless the offensive line is improved) Ben will throw the ball and Ward will grab it.
Ben throws into tight windows, no man's land and everywhere in-between if Ward is the intended target because he knows Mighty Mouse will come up with the catch. With this safety blanket gone, Ben will have to find that next guy.
If you asked Antonio Brown during the playoffs, he would say Ben has shown that he is making this adjustment. This kind of trust wont just come and ere may be some bad interceptions early on, but having that kind of player is what separates the good teams from the great teams.
4) Stay Hungry and Remain the Leader
Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I'm not the best supporter of Tom Brady. I respect him for the three rings and what he can do within in the Patriots' system.
However, in my usual criticism of Brady, over these last few years, I won't say I see a complacent player, but I don't see the same competitor that beat the Steelers from 2001-2004. While you can see him yelling at other players on the sidelines during regular season games you still see him modeling Rolex and Armani.
Essentially, my point is that these last few years, Brady has been mediocre in playoff games and my thesis is that it is due to his fire not burning as bright as it once did.
This CANNOT happen to Ben. In the playoffs, Ben makes the Big plays because he wants to win more than anyone else and it is infectious, just ask Santonio Holmes or Mike Wallace.
This is the attitude of champions. This helped a not-so-great team in 2005 pull off a Hollywood Super Bowl run. If Ben wants three more rings, he is going to have to want them just as much, if not more, than he wanted that first one.