Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is anticipating an acclimation period for the Pittsburgh Steelers offense early in the 2021 season.
According to Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said as much Wednesday while addressing the media: "We're going to have to kind of learn on the fly—all of us. It may not be pretty early. We have to accept that fact, too. But at the end of the day, we just have to do what we have to do to win a football game."
Roethlisberger and the Steelers drew a tough matchup in Week 1, as they will go on the road to face the reigning AFC East champion Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Pittsburgh is a tough team to read entering the 2021 season given how 2020 was essentially a tale of two seasons for the Steelers.
With Roethlisberger leading the way, the Steelers got off to an 11-0 start and looked like the team to beat in the NFL, but they lost four of their final five regular-season games and were beaten by the rival Cleveland Browns in the AFC Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
Despite the disappointing end to their season, Roethlisberger had a successful individual campaign, completing 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The 39-year-old veteran looked tired down the stretch, though, and that may have been due to the complete lack of a running game.
Pittsburgh was last in the NFL in 2020 with just 1,351 rushing yards as a team, and it averaged just 3.6 yards per carry as well.
The Steelers tried to address that issue during the offseason by selecting Alabama running back Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.
With Harris joining a talented passing attack led by Roethlisberger, Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool, the Steelers seemingly have the weapons needed to make some noise.
The biggest issue on offense could be the offensive line, however. Pittsburgh is poised to have two rookie starts on the line in fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle and third-round pick Kendrick Green at center, replacing Alejandro Villanueva and Maurkice Pouncey, respectively.
Regarding the reshuffling of the O-line, Roethlisberger said: "Like anything, there's going to be growing pains. We're all going to experience them. Even someone in his 18th season is going to experience growing pains. The key is, do we learn from those growing pains? How often do those pains come?"
If the growing pains are too obvious in Week 1, beating a Buffalo team led by the 2020 NFL MVP runner-up in quarterback Josh Allen will be a tough ask.
The Steelers may have a couple of get-right home games on tap the next two weeks against the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals, but the difficulty ramps up again in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the Pittsburgh offense right now, and it seems that not even Roethlisberger is 100 percent sure what to expect out of the gates.