The opening of the 2015 NFL season between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, surprisingly, comes with very little mention of one very important player: Ben Roethlisberger.
It’s hard for Roethlisberger to stand out as Tom Brady takes the field, “against all odds“. Brady was part of the most ridiculous story of the offseason; one we couldn’t stop covering, and people couldn’t stop consuming. The DeflateGate “scandal” which began before the previous Super Bowl, and still isn’t over, because after the league (Roger Goodell) punished the Patriots (accepted the fine) and Brady (didn’t accept it), he appealed, lost the initial appeal and then won it in court, resulting in his four game suspension being lifted.
And with Brady, along with the rest of the Patriots, making a triumphant return to Foxborough as the defending Super Bowl champions for the fourth time in the last 15 years, it’s slightly easy to forget about Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers, who haven’t been in the Super Bowl picture for the last five years.
The biggest news this offseason regarding the Steelers had to do with Roethlisberger signing a massive extension back in March; an extension that’s been the golden standard for quarterbacks seeking new deals, especially the veterans of them, fellow (draft)classmates Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, but don’t think Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson didn’t look at the money Roethlisberger got following his best season and did their calculations based on that.
The second most earth shattering moment this offseason for the Steelers was signing Michael Vick as the backup quarterback following the season-ending injury to Bruce Gradkowski. It comes with a lot of objection due to Vick’s prison time, but that’s about it. Vick has come back a long time ago, and no one seemed to have a problem with him when he was successful for a short while on the Eagles, earning him his second $100 million contract, which he didn’t complete.
Roethlisberger, we return to him again, is coming off an excellent season, once again loaded with offensive weapons to throw at or hand off the ball to. His offensive line should be a little bit better which means he might not be forced to move around and throw under pressure as much as last season, although the number suggest he doesn’t really mind it. Mike Tomlin and the Steelers prefered it if Roethlisberger wouldn’t be taking so many hits.
The key to his success this season and whether or not the Steelers win their first playoff game since the 2010 season will be the defense. A defense that’s changing in its form and shape, but is still far off from the days (not too long ago) when it was regarded as one of the best in the league. In a tough division, probably the best in the league, the Steelers are in for a wild, difficult ride, regardless of how good Roethlisberger will be. Against the Patriots who always grab most of the attention, with or without Tom Brady on the field, Roethlisberger probably doesn’t mind working away from the spotlight a little bit longer.