Pittsburgh Steelers: Life After Ben
By Luke Schultheis, Layout and Sports Editor
An era has ended.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired after 18 seasons, leading the team to a 165-81-1 record. He finished third all-time in fourth-quarter comebacks, fifth in passing yards, and eighth in passing touchdowns—all while never having a losing record. These are big shoes to fill.
The Steelers used their first-round draft pick on Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, who they expect to be the future of their franchise. In the 1983 NFL Draft, the team passed on Dan Marino, a Pitt quarterback turned Hall of Famer. After passing him up, they didn’t find their franchise guy until Big Ben started in 2004. Selecting Pickett puts some ghosts of the past to rest.
Although #8 will inevitably start, Mike Tomlin gave former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky the honor. Through three games, he has a 1-2 record, 2 passing touchdowns, and a QBR of 44. Long story short, he’s no Big Ben.
Offensive struggles have led to little defensive rest. The offensive line has improved in pass protection, but a non-existent running attack has held the offense back. Second-year player Najee Harris has rushed for just 128 yards through three games. The Steelers rank last in time of possession and 31st in yards per game. While the poor numbers are not entirely Trubisky’s fault, he hasn’t done much to help the team, either.
Big Ben led the team to seven fourth-quarter comebacks a year ago, and that’s something the team is missing. While Roethlisberger was well past his prime, his leadership and willingness to win earned Pittsburgh a playoff spot in 2021. The team needs a leader, and it’s not Mitch Trubisky.
Fans are ready to see their hometown hero in action. In a 17-14 loss against the Patriots, chants of “Kenny” burst from the stands. #8 capped off his preseason with a QBR of 138.6, 220 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. Whether Pickett becomes the next franchise quarterback or not, it’s time he gets his opportunity.