Ben Roethlisberger says Steelers tradition might be done, cites 'bad coaching'

Pittsburgh is in need of a win after two tough losses

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 09: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Ben Roethlisberger is no stranger to criticizing his longtime team in his retirement. Following the Pittsburgh Steelers' 21-18 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday, the two-time Super Bowl champion didn't hold back.

"Maybe the tradition of the Pittsburgh Steelers is done," he said in an episode of his podcast, "Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger," published Monday.

The 41-year-old took issue with multiple aspects of the team's Week 14 loss. He started by picking apart the second half, which saw the team attempt to rally without a full host of timeouts.

Before Roethlisberger retired in 2022, he played for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin from 2007 to 2021. But Tomlin's past with Roethlisberger didn't prevent the former quarterback from targeting him.

"You can't afford in the second half of games to burn silly timeouts and to not have them late in the game," Roethlisberger said. "To me, that's bad coaching."

He went on to offer his perspective on how the game should've been managed:

"There's some feel you have to have in those situations because timeouts can be so valuable, as we saw in this game," he said. "If we have one more timeout there, we get a completion, we can work the middle of the field, and all you got to do is give Boz [Chris Boswell] a 60-yard chance. Give him a chance, and he'll tie the game. I like my chances in overtime because they scored all their points early, and the momentum had shifted."

For Roethlisberger, the Steelers' current position isn't a familiar one. He never experienced a losing campaign during his 18 seasons with Pittsburgh, appearing in three Super Bowls. The current Steelers are 7-6 after last week's loss, which followed a defeat to the Arizona Cardinals.

Amid difficulties on offense, Pittsburgh's roster has offered plenty of verbal and physical displays of frustration — on and off the field. Roethlisberger seems to think the issue comes down to a lack of leadership in the locker room.

"Who is grabbing someone by the face mask and saying, 'That's not what we do'?" Roethlisberger asked. "Is that happening? Yes, you have guys on defense doing it, but you need guys on other sides of the ball doing it. You need someone to stand up in that room, on offense, and be like, hey, this isn't what it means to wear the black and gold."

All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has been vocal about the Steelers' shortcomings this season. Before calling on his teammates to "look in the mirror" after the loss to the Patriots, he reportedly got into a heated argument with Diontae Johnson after a loss to the Cleveland Browns. Johnson was later forced to address his visible lack of effort during a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mike Tomlin admitted Monday that wide receiver George Pickens' visible frustration on the field has become "a problem." Last month, running back Najee Harris vented about the offense, saying, “There’s a lot of stuff that goes around that you guys don’t see. I’m at a point where I’m just tired of this s***."

"It just feels like that's something that's been lost on this team," Roethlisberger said on the podcast. "I've felt that certain guys on the team aren't in it for the team, they're in it for themselves. Well, now some of the guys on the team are saying the same thing."

Roethlisberger called younger Steelers players "coddled" last season, an assertion he walked back after defensive tackle Cam Heyward took offense. It's possible that Roethlisberger's most recent comments will garner a similar reaction.