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Ben Roethlisberger literally limped to his press conference on Wednesday. And before too long, he was offering to show reporters the black and blue swath of his hip he’s nursing that is causing him pain.
Roethlisberger, obviously joking, eventually thought better of pulling down his sweat pants, but we get it.
And the Steelers are hurting.
And although Big Ben is, of course, thinking things can get better, he and his 1-3 team face an uphill battle.
The first thing that has to happen is Roethlisberger has to stop playing like an over-the-hill quarterback who can no longer evade defenders. Next thing is he has to get his passes on target because he’s been woefully inconsistent — as his 64.1 completion percentage, tied for 21st in the NFL — shows.
But how to do that when he’s clearly not healthy?
“As a quarterback, there’s so much involved in the lower body,” Roethlisberger said. “People probably think that as a quarterback or a thrower it’s, ‘How’s your arm doing?’ Your arm is honestly a small part compared to the whole package.
“It’s your core, it’s your lower body. I’ve got to find ways to be better with my lower body. Going back and watching the game a few times, a lot of the throws I missed were missed because my lower body wasn’t in synch.”
Here’s the problem: The Steelers are two games under .500 after only one month, their quarterback is hurt, and the schedule is about to get tougher. The Steelers have 13 games left and only one of them — against the Detroit Lions — offers an opponent currently under .500.
“We know it’s early. We’ve played some good football teams,” Roethlisberger said. “And we feel like we’re making some progress. We just have to find a way to, at the end of the game, have a W on the board.
“You can play well and do all those things and get better, but at the end of the day, you want to win the football game. So that’s what we have to do, and it starts this week at home against a good football team.”
The Steelers host Denver on Sunday.
Daniel Jones, player of the week
It wasn’t looking too good for Daniel Jones and the New York Giants a couple of weeks ago.
Jones was under 60 percent completion in a season-opening loss to Denver. The Giants lost a game they probably should have won at Washington the following week. And there was that unremarkable game against the very beatable Falcons — in which Jones did not throw a TD pass.
But one week can change the narrative.
Jones threw for 402 yards in an overtime win over New Orleans last week. His offensive line, led by great work from left tackle Andrew Thomas, is protecting better, and he was just named the NFC offensive Player of the Week.
The flat lines have sprung to life for Jones.
“We haven’t won enough games – that’s no secret – the first two years, and obviously this season didn’t start how we wanted it to or expected it to,” Jones said. “Those are storms we’ve all had to weather, and we’ve got to continue to progress, continue to improve.
“I think [the New Orleans game] was a big win for us, but it’s over now and our focus is on Dallas and making sure we’re prepared this week.”
Jones doesn’t want to repeat the tough moments of the past couple of years or even the first three games. But they may have taught him something.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “I think it’s hard to win in this league and it doesn’t come easy. It comes with a lot of hard work and preparation. I think it’s taught that lesson more than anything. That’s important every week, like I said. Now the focus is preparing this week and making sure we’re prepared to play on Sunday.”
Baker Mayfield needs a rebound
Baker Mayfield is looking for a bounce-back game this weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers, and he definitely needs it because last week he was, well, terrible in some areas of his game.
Mayfield is coming off a game in which he completed 15 of 33 passes for 155 yards against the Minnesota Vikings.
“It’s just about making the plays that are there,” a seemingly guarded Mayfield said Wednesday. “I really don’t think it’s that complicated. I’m not going to try to make an excuse. It’s like what I pretty much hit on after the game, just try to make the damn play. That’s it.”
Mayfield had open receivers. But he simply missed the throws.
A couple of those misses included throws to Odell Beckham Jr. that would have been big gains and possibly one long touchdown.
“It’s probably about a quarter of a second off,” Mayfield said of his timing and chemistry with Beckham.
Mayfield is clearly so unhappy with his performance, he found a way to criticize himself even while discussing the win.
“It’s nice when you play at around 50 percent completion, which is just terrible, and you know you have a win on the road in a hostile environment against a good team,” Mayfield said. “So yeah, that is nice to know we have that, but there’s still a standard I try to set for myself and hold myself accountable to. I need to do that.”
Urban Meyer swirling vortex tries to swallow Trevor Lawrence
The Jacksonville Jaguars are winless. Trevor Lawrence has thrown seven interceptions, which would lead the NFL were it not for fellow rookie Zach Wilson’s eight. And Wednesday was Lawrence’s 22nd birthday.
So there were plenty of other topics to discuss in the Lawrence press conference.
Except the first question was about coach Urban Meyer’s stumble over the weekend. And the second question was about the same topic. And the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth question, too.
“I don’t really have a reaction, I mean, it is what it is,” Lawrence said when asked for a reaction about how his head coach addressed the bump-and-grind-at-the-party incident. “I think his intentions were to say he always encouraged his players to be smart and handle things a certain way, which I did on that trip. Everything went smooth. I don’t have any reason to feel any type of way on my side. It’s all good.”
And that was the theme of Lawrence’s talk with reporters. He’s not upset with Meyer after the coach talked to players and apologized during a team meeting Wednesday.
“I think that was great,” Lawrence said. “I know a lot of the guys respected it, how he addressed us this morning. We’ve all had, most of have had separate conversations, individual, one-on-one conversations with him. I think he’s handled it well to this point. Obviously it’s not an easy situation. You don’t want to be in this situation, but I think he’s done right by us.
“It was a good meeting this morning. He was upfront with us, apologized. And, you know, we’re a team. We’re sticking together. Just ’cause something happens that put a little stress on it, that doesn’t mean you just give up and go your separate ways. You figure it out and work through it. And that’s what we’re doing.”
And on question seven, or maybe eight, Lawrence got to the money quote:
“At the end of the day, I can speak for myself, for sure, and I think or know most of the team feels this way,” he said. “He’s still my head coach. I still respect him, regardless of what happens. Like I said, we’re a team and we’re figuring it out so, yeah, we’re all good.”
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