Nov 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass as he is hit by Buffalo Bills linebacker Manny Lawson (91) during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
It sounded like another classic case of a team understanding their quarterback was getting old and that quarterback seeing the franchise trying to go in a different direction despite years of success with a certain formula. That crossroads has come for Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin want more cerebral Big Ben
Finding the point of contention was the real source behind why the two sides are at odds. It seems recent rumors have brought clarity to the situation. Apparently the franchise is tired of seeing Roethlisberger taking so many hits, a byproduct of the hard-nosed style he plays with by holding the football and using his massive body to shed tacklers until a receiver is open. It’s created some miraculous plays in the past and helped win two Super Bowls. However, now into his 30s those hits and injuries he’s suffered over the years are going to start to creep up on him, shortening what has been an outstanding career. Pittsburgh doesn’t want that, which is why they have reportedly been pushing for Ben to work harder off the field on the intricacies of the system. In other words they want him to become more like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, using his head to read defenses and get the ball out of his hands faster. It’s not an unreasonable line of thought considering it could add more years to his playing career, but clearly Roethlisberger isn’t eager to follow that line of thinking. He seems content to play his style and hopes Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin will let him rather than trying to change what has worked for years.
Derek Carr and A.J. McCarron bring the mental side of the game
Hence the standoff on possibly parting ways in 2014 via a trade. Barring a miraculous late season run the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t likely to make the playoffs and could end up with a top ten pick in the draft next year. That should give them a great opportunity to go after a quarterback who can replace Ben Roethlisberger. If they stick true to their plan by seeking somebody more attune to the mental side of the game then they should have some very interesting options. A name Todd Haley would like is Derek Carr. The FresnoState star has put together an outstanding season in 2013 and has his team on the threshold of a major bowl birth. His numbers are otherworldly such as 3,421 passing yards, 32 touchdown and a 69.5 completion percentage. Scouts are most impressed with his work ethic. His dedication to the craft ranks among the best in his draft class. He’s intelligent and would thrive in the quick-hitting system Haley runs. Another option is Alabama leader A.J. McCarron. Viewed widely as a game manager type, his teammates and coaches swear by his ability to run a passing offense. He just isn’t asked to for the Crimson Tide. Indeed whenever the situation has called for McCarron to throw, he has delivered. He’s shown himself as a great commander of the huddle, smart with the football and talented enough to make the needed plays.
Are they proper replacements for Ben? Most would argue not. Then again they might end up having longer careers than him.