Originally written on Down and Distance  |  Last updated 11/18/14

Say what you will about Ben Roethlisberger. But I have a hard time believing that anyone will disagree he is the toughest quarterback in the league. His playing style – holding the ball, scrambling, shrugging off would be tacklers, basically reckless abandon – is tailor made for Pittsburgh. It could also be tailor made for destruction. Steelers president, Art Rooney II, suggested back in January that Roethlisberger “tweak” his style for his own safety. Thus far, it appears neither Ben nor his teammates agree.

“I don’t think we could ever have a — I don’t want to say prissy — but I don’t think we could ever have that style of quarterback here,” safety Troy Polamalu said.

“Ben,” safety Ryan Clark said, “is a real football player.”

Being a die-hard member of Steeler Nation, I am on the fence about this one. It’s a double edged sword, because Roethlisberger’s style is what makes him so effective as a quarterback. His uncanny ability to avoid sacks, break tackles, and extend the play have become his trademark. The fault isn’t all his, however, in terms of the hits he takes. The Steelers offensive line hasn’t been exactly the greatest in recent years, but with drastic improvements to the line via the draft, it is possible Ben won’t have to play with that style all the time.

Last season, Roethlisberger was banged up for the better part of the second half of the season. His injuries, among others, included: a broken thumb, a sprained ankle, and another high ankle sprain. The latter injury, which would have kept most quarterbacks in street clothes, was clearly affecting his play. I agree that he should take more precautions to remain 100% for a whole season, because without a healthy Big Ben, the Steelers will struggle. With a trio of y0ung, fast, and explosive receivers at his disposal, I would love to see what the offense can do with a healthy Roethlisberger.

Safety Ryan Clark continued, via NFL.com:

“Of course you don’t want him to get hurt. You take the good with the bad. That’s like me telling Troy, ‘Hey Troy, I want you to do exactly what the book says every play.’ You take away someone’s greatness when you limit what they can do with their athletic ability or their God-given talent…we need Ben on the field. We need a healthy Ben Roethlisberger to be a healthy Super Bowl contender.”

Big Ben himself summed it up perfectly while trying to give himself advice:

“It’s just: don’t take hits. But I don’t know how to do that.”

I for one hope adding top-tier linemen David DeCastro and Mike Adams in the draft will make it easier for Roethlisberger to not feel that pressure to extend the play, and just drop back and throw like every other normal quarterback. But Ben’s always Ben abnormal and unorthodox. Tweak his play? Maybe a little. But don’t count on it.







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