Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn’t going anywhere in 2020. His potential replacement, Mason Rudolph, essentially failed his audition. Third-stringer Duck Hodges can hold his own for some garbage time fill-in work at best. Big Ben, it seems, is still the man for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If Roethlisberger is it for the 2020 season, should Steelers fans prepare themselves for a rough season? As much as his abilities have waned in recent years, the elbow injury that knocked him out of 2019 proved his outsized contributions to their offense. Is Roethlisberger going to return in playing shape? NFL insider Jay Glazer doesn’t think Roethlisberger has the work ethic toward offseason conditioning to get back into prime form.
How Ben Roethlisberger went from dependable star to injury-plagued question mark
We’ll get to Glazer’s reasoning in a moment. First, let’s recap how Big Ben’s career led up to what will likely be the most crucial offseason of his career. A glance at his best form should give us some idea of what an older, post-injury version of Roethlisberger might be able to pull off.
Roethlisberger is large for a QB, hence the “Big Ben” moniker. The Steelers officially list him at 6 feet, 5 inches, weighing in at 240 lbs. At 38, he’s left a Hall of Fame level career behind him, complete with two Super Bowl wins. Much of that success was with Mike Tomlin, who played to his big man QB’s strengths.
Fans and observers criticized Roethlisberger’s weight, speed, and more throughout this process, but his rings speak for themselves. Have we hit the “broken clock is right twice a day” part of Big Ben’s career, though? Is age, and recovery from a season-ending injury going to finally prove the QB’s longtime critics right?
NFL insider Jay Glazer torched Roethlisberger’s fitness
A longtime NFL and MMA insider, Jay Glazer has a rare ability to set the sports world in a tizzy with a few words. His track record gives his rumor-mongering far more credibility than most. And he doesn’t have much good to say about Big Ben’s offseason conditioning after his elbow injury.
In his recurring column for The Athletic, Glazer cut to the bone. “[Roethlisberger’s] idea of a great off-season workout program is doing one yoga session, playing golf, and drinking some beer,” Glazer wrote. This line, broadly quoted, set the NFL world on yet another wave of criticism of the Steeler’s QB’s approach to the game.
Tellingly, what Glazer wrote next got far less attention. “Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I want fans of other cities to realize that. […]Don’t sleep on [Roethlisberger and Tomlin] ever.” That bit certainly gives his perspective a whole other dimension, doesn’t it?
Can Ben Roethlisberger defy his critics this season?
Glazer’s dim prognostication of Big Ben’s conditioning isn’t particularly alarming for Glazer himself. The same goes for the Steelers top brass. General Manager Kevin Colbert is happy to signal that he doesn’t much care about his star QB’s workout habits.
“[…]we have no concerns about him and his physical conditioning,” Colbert said to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Now, as in the past, Roethlisberger’s all-in start date coincides with when he’s back in the hands of the Steelers organization. “When he shows up at training camp, he’s ready to go. He knows how to prepare himself.”
Tomlin feels the same, giving his perspective to the Tribune-Review. “He’s throwing on a rehab schedule, and it’s going well,” Tomlin said. “We fully anticipate him being ready to go for that opener.”
Tomlin and Roethlisberger are likely the most underrated active head coach and QB pair in the NFL. Maybe Steelers fans should focus on the second half of Glazer’s comments, rather than falling into the trap of fretting over the initial criticism.