Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has given no indication to those within the organization that he is considering benching future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger yet, league sources said, much to the chagrin of some. Regardless, a quarterback change is looking increasingly inevitable to some coaches and staff given how desperate the plight of this offense has become.
Roethlisberger has not been a fit in offensive coordinator Matt Canada's system thus far, with some tension mounting about that transition, and the offense has been awful since the middle of last season. At age 39, there is fear among many within the organization that these problems will persist, undermining the season, and leaving Tomlin no choice but to go to a backup by the Week 7 bye. The decision rests with Tomlin, sources said, with no mandates coming from ownership, but the scope of the offensive ineptitude is lost on no one, and many of Canada's concepts are negated by an immobile quarterback.
"If this continues, I would think those conversations (between Tomlin and ownership) would have to take place soon enough," said one league source with long ties to the Rooney family. "They would have to consider it at the bye week."
Roethlisberger is in the final year of his reworked contract and is 2-6 in his last eight starts dating to December, barely averaging 6 yards per attempt in that span. The Steelers have been unable to push the ball downfield at all, and some involved in the offense believe Roethlisberger's inability to move or manipulate the pocket -- or open things up by running option plays -- are holding back any chance of implementing changes that might help unlock the running game and foster the development of a young offensive line that is getting overwhelmed at times.
Tomlin, and the Rooney family, are incredibly loyal to Roethlisberger as he has spent his entire career in Pittsburgh and helped them win Super Bowls under two coaches. Stripping out sentimentality, and moving on from a franchise icon, is never easy, especially in this case. But chatter is growing in all sectors of the organization about the scope and depth of their issues on offense, and the sample size of those struggles is already fairly large.
No. 2 quarterback Mason Rudolph has yet to establish himself as a future starter, and there is uncertainty about him beyond this year as well, but he did run an offense in college that employed many of the concepts Canada espouses and some believe he would be a far better fit in it at this point than Roethlisberger. The Steelers visit the Packers today and then play host to the Broncos and Seahawks before their bye.
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