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Ben Roethlisberger is a Pittsburgh Steelers legend who will march on forever in franchise lore. That much was determined long ago.
But seriously, folks, it’s time to move on. The Steelers aren’t going anywhere this season. They’re 1-3, and Roethlisberger is playing like the banged-up 39-year-old quarterback he is.
He’s no longer Big Ben. He is more like Big Ben Gay these days, looking washed up, tired, and defeated.
Last year, the Steelers started 11-0. Remember that? It’s OK if you don’t. It feels like 100 years ago.
Since then, they have gone 2-8. They were absolutely rocked in the first quarter of their last playoff game — to the rival Cleveland Browns, no less.
Roethlisberger used to take his team on the football equivalent of a magic carpet ride. Now, he’s just trying to steer a jalopy through the mud and the muck. Why the Steelers let this continue, well, that’s anyone’s guess.
Through four games this year, Roethlisberger has thrown four touchdowns and four interceptions and sports a dreary passing rating of 78.9. But you don’t even need the numbers. The simple eye test shows you that Roethlisberger is near the bottom of the league in starting QBs.
As Ryan Phillips of The Big Lead accurately described it, “Roethlisberger hasn’t looked healthy or capable in years. It has gotten sad.”
Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins are Pittsburgh’s backup options. Those two don’t exactly recall memories of Tom Brady replacing Drew Bledsoe with the New England Patriots, or Steve Young taking over for Joe Montana with the San Francisco 49ers. Far from it.
But the Steelers only have themselves to blame for that. Signs that Roethlisberger was fading came as early as last season, when the 11-0 start proved to be a fluke. Big Ben went into the Big Tank.
He’s never reemerged and he’s not going to. The Steelers should put him on the bench, understand that they’re about to finish last in the AFC North, then start looking to the future. Their defense is plenty good enough and they have a promising young running back in rookie Najee Harris. There are signs of hope.
All they really need is a quarterback. Once they finally admit that and quit hanging onto the past and dragging Roethlisberger onto the field, the better off they will become.
Question is, will the Steelers be willing to suck it up, thank Roethlisberger for his many years of quality service, and make the move? Without a shred of doubt, it is time.