Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin found himself having to defend veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last week, but the future Hall of Famer did little to silence critics in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers. It was Pittsburgh's third consecutive defeat and dropped the club to 1-3 on the season.
According to ESPN stats, the Steelers sit tied for 29th in scoring with 16.8 points per game, and Roethlisberger is 27th overall with a 78.9 passer rating and tied for 28th with a 36.3 total QBR. In addition, the QB "has some hip issues" this week coming off the left pectoral injury he suffered against the Las Vegas Raiders back on Sept. 19, according to Tomlin.
Per Kevin Patra of the league's website, Tomlin was asked Tuesday if Roethlisberger is still the right quarterback to start for the Steelers with backup Mason Rudolph and former first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins both available to take the field in this coming Sunday's matchup against the 3-1 Denver Broncos.
"Absolutely. What he does and what he's done makes me really comfortable in saying that," Tomlin responded.
ESPN's Brooke Pryor noted that Tomlin also spoke about Roethlisberger's inconsistent and lackluster play.
"It's him some, it's us collectively some," Tomlin explained. "We've just got to keep working. Sometimes it can be attributed to the altering of plans late in the week because of player availability or guys not being available. ...
"We've had some big-play opportunities, we hadn't cashed in on them. We need to cash in on them. They're a big component of moving the ball and scoring, particularly when you're not working as efficiently as you like on possession downs, which we aren't. ... We're also going to work to connect on a higher percentage of these chunk opportunities because that aids us in terms of ringing up the scoreboard, as well."
Tomlin's public votes of confidence make for nice quotes, but the harsh truth is that the Steelers continuing to play a 39-year-old signal-caller seemingly in the twilight of his career will make only less sense with each defeat, especially if that quarterback is dealing with multiple physical setbacks before the halfway point of October.