Ben Roethlisberger 'Absolutely' Best QB for Steelers Offense, Mike Tomlin Says

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 5, 2021

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Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Ben Roethlisberger "absolutely" remains the best quarterback to lead the team's offense.

"Everything except mobility," Tomlin told reporters about what Big Ben can fix after a slow start to the 2021 NFL season. "I don't have an answer for that. Ben used to be able to run really good. Those days are behind him. Other than that, I don't see much that's not a discussion of technical alterations that can be improved."

The Steelers coach added Roethlisberger is dealing with some "hip issues."

Pittsburgh opened the season with an impressive win over the Buffalo Bills, but it's since dropped three straight contests while putting up just 14.7 points per game over that span.

Roethlisberger is completing 64.1 percent of his passes, which is right in line with his career average, but he's thrown for just 1,033 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. He ranks 28th in ESPN's Total QBR (36.3) and owns a lackluster 53.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.

"We have had some down years, [but] it's probably never started like this," he told reporters Sunday. "What a challenge for us. I think this is going to test us all, that we need to look in the mirror and we need to figure out what path we want to take, and I know what I'm going to do."

Roethlisberger's arm strength showed signs of diminishing last year after he missed most of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, and now, he's grown increasingly immobile while trying to find success working behind an offensive line that's struggled.

The 39-year-old seven-time Pro Bowl selection signed a restructured one-year, $14 million contract with the Steelers in March to stay with the franchise that took him in the first round of the 2004 draft.

While it doesn't sound Tomlin is close to benching his longtime starter, it's possible that stance could change if Pittsburgh continues to struggle.

Dwayne Haskins and Mason Rudolph are the other quarterbacks on the Steelers' roster. Neither impressed during their previous opportunities to start in the NFL.

Haskins, a 2019 first-round pick, posted a 74.4 passer rating with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions across 16 games (13 starts) as a member of the Washington Football Team. He signed with Pittsburgh in January.

Rudolph was selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 2018 draft. He's made 15 appearances (nine starts) when Roethlisberger has been sidelined and compiled a 82.7 passer rating.

In turn, the team will likely give the future Hall of Famer every opportunity to turn his season around before they hand the offense to a different signal-caller.

Next up for the Steelers is a home game against the 3-1 Denver Broncos on Sunday.


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