After Ben’s play this Sunday, it seems everyone is calling for his head, especially after they’ve seen how well Byron Leftwich played against the Redskins. But is that really what the Steelers need?
Now let’s look at both sides of the story, to make sure we think this thing out clearly.
Ben Roethlisberger is our franchise quarterback. We know what he’s capable of doing, good and bad. He took us to the Super Bowl in just his second year. He’s 49-19 as our starter, he already has a long list of records for the Steelers and the NFL. You probably already know all the good.
However, the bad part is that he has already tied is season interception total of last year (11) in just 9 games this year. His last 3 games against the Giants, Redskins, and Colts he’s had QB ratings of 38.5, 15.1(!), and 60, respectively. He seems to be getting banged up (sacked 28 times so far this year) and his injuries are piling up even more.
Byron Leftwich has basically only played one half this season, other than a few throws late in some blowout games. But during that half, he was incredible. And it wasn’t against the Lions or the Rams, it was against the 8th ranked defense in the pass, the Washington Redskins. He singlehandedly kept that game out of reach by moving the ball crisply down the field. He already has experience has a franchise QB (but blew it) with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons.
Now any athlete knows, they want to be out on the field whether they are injured or not. But the fact of the matter is, you have to ask yourself, by going out and playing are you really helping the team, or are you hurting them because you aren’t 100%? This is what I felt happened after the motorcycle accident in 2006. He was rushed back because he thought he could play, when really he should have taken some time off. Which I think is what people are trying to blame the loss on. But I think was different from back then because in this game he went 30-42, a 71.4 completion percentage (his second highest this year) which is amazing for that many throws in a game (his highest all year). His two interceptions were the only critical factors of the game. And neither of those seemed like they had anything to do with any injury; they both just seemed like terrible decisions. It wasn’t his injuries that lost the game, it was his poor decision making. If he didn’t make either of those interceptions, we wouldn’t even be talking about this right now.
No one knows how the game would have panned out if Byron was behind center; he could have done worse, he could have done better. But we have to go back to the very first thing I said: Ben is our franchise quarterback. He’s going to have good and bad games. What would it say about the Steelers if Ben had some down weeks and we decided to bench him for a failed franchise quarterback? We would look like a joke. We paid Ben the big bucks for a reason. That’s what seperates us from the Browns. Just because our QB struggles a little bit, the front office isn’t going to just try to please the crowd by putting in someone that has looked decent but hasn’t proven himself. I don’t even know what everyone’s complaining about in the first place, the Steelers are 6-3 and tied for the lead in their division. Yeah, with a few things going our way, we could easily be 8-1, but that’s how sports go. The Steelers are going to keep Ben in as starting quarterback and they should. Putting Byron in as starter would just be stupid.
Just one more thing, the Super Bowl Steelers of 2005 were also 6-3 after 9 games, I don’t think we have anything to panic about.