Roethlisberger Says OC Fichtner Not To Blame For Steelers Recent Offensive Struggles

The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled on offense during a three-game losing streak, and the heat has gotten even hotter for Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner.

From accusing him of not going deep often enough to calling predictable plays, Fichtner has been slammed on social media, and many fans want him fired as soon as the final triple zeros hit whenever the Steelers finish their final game this season.

Many think that Fichtner is in his position only because of his relationship with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who, fans say, handpicked Fichtner to the be the new OC when Todd Haley was run out of town after the 2017 campaign.

Sunday, reports surfaced that the Steelers' much-needed 28-24 comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts was not orchestrated by Fichtner's play calls, but by Roethlisberger calling and changing plays at the line of scrimmage. The NFL Network even reported that the Steelers offense in the first half (as they fell behind the Colts 21-7) was so predictable that the Colts were able to call out the Steelers' plays.

Whatever the case, the Steelers were held to 97 total yards, 48 coming on a couple garbage plays at the very end, in the first 30 minutes.

The second half, the team was shot out of a cannon after a first drive that ended on downs at the Colts 2-yard-line.

The club then scored three straight touchdowns, with many believing it was Roethlisberger's more wide open calls that led the Steelers to the win.

Pittsburgh put up 257 total yards to go along with the three scores in the second half of the victory that clinched the team's first AFC North title since 2017.

Wednesday, Roethlisberger said that, despite what people are saying, there should not be heat on Fichtner, and that the OC was a big part of the second half comeback.

“I saw that (Fichtner) was taking a little bit (of criticism), and he shouldn’t be,” Roethlisberger said during a video conference call Wednesday via the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

“The players (should). He calls the plays. We have to execute them.”

Fichtner is in his third season as Steelers offensive coordinator, and while Pittsburgh started the season 11-0, they have struggled since then. They scored under 20 points in four straight games and lost three out of four them. Their only win came over a depleted Baltimore Ravens squad.

Roethlisberger put himself and other offensive players front and center in terms of being accountable for the lack of execution, refusing to let Fichtner take all the blame for the club's lack of offensive success.

“What I see in Coach Randy’s growth is just understanding what our strengths and weaknesses are,” Roethlisberger said.

“Really, it boils down to us needing go make the plays — not the play-calling.”

The Steelers will head into Sunday's regular season finale in Cleveland with Mason Rudolph as the team's starting quarterback, giving Roethlisberger a rest.

The Steelers rank 12th in the NFL in scoring and 24th in yards gained heading into Sunday's game.

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Matt has been a part of the Cleveland Sports landscape working in the media since 1994 when he graduated from broadcasting school. His coverage beats include the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. He's written three books, and won the "2020 AP Sports Stringer Lifetime Service Award."