A few days after the Steelers devastating loss to the Dolphins, it appears things could have ended up far worse than they did. The team certainly should be embarrassed by their performance in the 30-15 loss that dropped them to 4-2 on the season but they can breathe a sigh of relief after Ben Roethlisberger’s’ injury isn’t as bad as it could have been.
Big Ben had surgery on Monday on the meniscus in his left knee and thanks to having a bye week after the upcoming game against the Patriots; he’ll probably only miss one game, two at most. It would obviously be more than preferable to have number seven available to play the Patriots, a game that could determine a bye and top seeding in the playoffs but if it’s the only game he misses, a game in which I feel the Patriots would win either way, then it’s not the end of the world.
The impact of Roethlisberger not playing is what will be truly interesting to watch. First and foremost, at the center of all this will be the man behind center; Landry Jones. The fans have been slamming Jones for a couple of seasons now, stating he’s not a quality backup and he can’t get it done. Many have been clamoring this week to allow Zak Mettenberger the opportunity to start instead of Jones. I on the other hand disagree, I feel Jones does have talent and just needs time to play in order to prove it, time with the first string, not pre-season games. He had some decent showings last season and now it’s time for him to step up and prove what he’s made of, not for any of the fans but for this team and for himself.
The effect of Ben not playing will be palpable but those that will need to step up alongside Jones will be LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown and Jesse James in particular. The passing game will or at least should be scaled back so the shorter Antonio Brown routes will be a key to the game plan and Bell needs to get the ball via the run over 25 times. These guys need to show they are superstars both with Ben but also without.
It’s not just on the players though, Coach Tomlin and Coach Haley need to game plan accordingly. They need to put Jones in a position to succeed, not allowing him to get into messes he can’t handle. Haley needs to provide the right play calls and not put too much in Jones’s hands. Tomlin needs to ensure this team is ready to rally around Jones and not automatically assume it’s a loss.
None of this is easy when you’re going up against arguably the best coach and quarterback in the history of the NFL but even if the black and gold lose this coming Sunday, they can truly learn a lot about themselves as a team and see what they are made of.
Without their big gun, they have to prove they are still strong, they are still a contender and they still have what it takes. It’s all a trickle down from Big Ben’s injury and I’m deeming it the Ben Roethlisberger Effect and it can go either way….we’ll soon see exactly what that all means.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com– Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.