The NFL is a business. Never forget it. Just three seasons ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers had what most considered the best set of skill players in the league. Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback with running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown formed the most productive and exciting group of triplets on offense.
But oh how things have changed. NFL Network ranked every team’s triplets and the Steelers found themselves all the way down at No. 17. This is down six spots from last year when the same three guys were the starters.
Roethlisberger’s return saves me from writing about Duck Hodges/Mason Rudolph, so the QB already earns a W in my book. To be frank, I moved Big Ben up and down the QB rankings too many times to count. When he’s right, the 38-year-old is elite. But when he’s off — especially on downfield passes — he’s a liability. The future Hall of Famer is still far better than the Steelers’ alternatives, but I’m not sure he’s still capable of taking a solid supporting cast and making it great.
The last line of this analysis really hits home. There was a time when Roethlisberger’s reputation was all about elevating the players around him and making them better. But there is a worry he’s lost some of his mojo after having elite skill players around him. This season will be a great test for Big Ben and his top two skill players being in the final years of their contracts.