Ben Roethlisberger’s Demise Overshadowed Najee Harris’ Record-Breaking Performance, and Mike Tomlin Needs to Sound the Alarm Immediately

Things are getting worse for Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. After yet another disappointing loss, Mike Tomlin and his team have some explaining to do. Najee Harris broke a franchise record, but it was overshadowed by Big Ben’s lackluster performance.

The Steelers look disgraceful right now, and something needs to change immediately.

The Steelers have lost 2 straight games after winning their opener

The 2021 version of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a far cry from the team that posted a 12-4 record during the 2020 regular season.

Pittsburgh gave fans a reason to be excited after the team knocked off Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills on the road. The Week 1 victory is starting to look like a facade, though.

The Steelers got thoroughly outplayed in Week 2, losing to the surprisingly good Las Vegas Raiders 26-17. They followed it up by getting dominated by their AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals.

The team seems to have the most prominent issues on the offensive side of the ball. It can’t run the ball despite drafting Najee Harris in the first round. With major changes on the offensive line, this unit is not built to ground and pound. That’s uncharacteristic of a Steelers team.

The passing game has not lived up to expectations either. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked four times against the Bengals and never got anything going.

Big Ben finished with 318 passing yards and a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions. If the offense doesn’t play better, it will be a long season for the Steelers.

Mike Tomlin has to figure out what to do about Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin looks on as Ben Roethlisberger hands the ball off to Najee Harris.
Steelers rookie Najee Harris taking the handoff from Ben Roethlisberger | Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger has dedicated 18 years of his life to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is beloved by the organization, but it’s hard to sugarcoat what’s going on here.

Big Ben isn’t right. He’s not the same player who led the Steelers offense in the past. At 39 years old, he lacks the mobility to extend plays, something he used to do very well.

Roethlisberger has exhibited some questionable decision-making as well, leading to him taking unnecessary sacks and throwing three interceptions so far in 2021.

Sure, it’s not all on Big Ben. The offensive line is horrendous, the receiving corps has suffered some injuries, including to Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Still, the six-time Pro Bowler must be better.

As the team leader, it is Roethlisberger’s responsibility to elevate the play of those around him. He’s played with less talent before. That excuse is flawed.

Mike Tomlin now has some thinking to do. Do you bench Big Ben? It’s worth a thought, but Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins hardly inspire any confidence. Inserting them into this situation may make matters worse.

However, it’s difficult to imagine Tomlin allowing Ben Roethlisberger to play an entire 17-game schedule like this.

Najee Harris broke a record, but nobody cares

You have to feel bad for Najee Harris. The Steelers selected him with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Alabama. Highly touted as the best running back in the draft class, Harris entered the NFL with high expectations.

After a rough start to the season, the Martinez, California, native put together his best performance of the season. He broke a franchise record for receptions by a running back, hauling in 14 passes on the day. He finished the game with 102 receiving yards.

Despite his effectiveness in the passing game, Harris still struggled to find success running the ball. The Alabama product is an immensely talented back in all facets, but the offensive line is doing him no favors.

Maurkice Pouncey retired, and Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler left in free agency. The Steelers now field a makeshift offensive line.

The offensive line woes aren’t the only issue. Ben Roethlisberger is also one, and one Pittsburgh doesn’t appear to have an answer for.

Mike Tomlin is known as a no-nonsense coach who hates to lose. Well, if the Steelers come out with more of the same, he’ll do plenty of losing in 2021.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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