Ben Roethlisberger says Steelers offense may be better than record-breaking '14 season
July 26, 2015 9:36 PM
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shouts signals Sunday during drills at St Vincent College in Latrobe.
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A relationship that started off as uneven as the Mon River has evolved and produced something special, something powerful and perhaps something great enough to carry the Steelers into another Super Bowl.
Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley eyed each other warily in 2012, a veteran quarterback and his new coordinator circling each other like two alpha males trying to mark their territory.
Three years later, they not only cast aside the initial distrust but have cast fishing lines in the water together, golfed together and have produced the kind of offense together never seen in Pittsburgh and near the top of the NFL.
Now they want more.
“We want to start fast and we want to be able to put 30 points on the board in every game,” said Roethlisberger, a Pro Bowl quarterback who enters his 12th NFL season.
In an interview Sunday morning with the Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger referred to his relationship with Haley near equal to the warm one he had with former coordinator Bruce Arians. He also called his offensive line perhaps the best in the NFL and his wide receivers potentially among the best he has had with the Steelers. And he raved about his two All-Pros, wide receiver Antonio Brown and halfback Le’Veon Bell.
What’s there not to like on offense for a quarterback who rarely had everything? After scoring a franchise-high 436 points in 2014, their goal is to score at least 30 points a game in this one.
At 33, Roethlisberger said he and his arm are in tip-top shape.
“That group in front of me is as good as any in the league, and as good as any I’ve ever had. It’s great,” he said of his line.
“Then you look at outside receiver. AB is as good as anybody in this league and arguably one of the greatest that I’ve played with. Just all around on offense, we have just a special group. It has a chance to be really good.
“There are a lot of young guys, kind of the unknown other than of AB. But they have as much potential and talent from top to bottom as we’ve had here in a long time. To me the sky is the limit for them.”
While they may need more production on offense to overcome some defensive shortcomings that dropped them to a 21st-century low of 18th in the NFL in yards allowed, Roethlisberger believes they will improve as well.
“I feel they’re going to take what happened last year to heart. I know there’s some change there with coach [Keith] Butler and coach [Dick] LeBeau being gone and some new guys. But they’re really starting to come along. They’re a fast, physical group. It’ll be neat to see what they do this year.
“But we still want to score 30 points a game because that is our goal.”
It is well known that Roethlisberger was good friends with Arians, who was forced out by Steelers management after the 2011 season. What began as a tenuous relationship with Haley has since turned around on and off the field.
“I think the relationship and chemistry that Todd and I have now is getting to that B.A.-type level,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re friends. We went fishing and he sent me pictures of his fish, just things like that. Anybody who sees it, whether it’s from afar or up close, can see that the relationship is not fake. It’s not for the cameras, it’s a genuine relationship and it works.”
The offense not only set franchise records for points scored but also with 379 first downs, 6,577 total yards and 301.6 passing yards per game. Roethlisberger’s 4,952 yards passing set a team record as did his 67.1 percent completion rate and 32 touchdowns passing.
“What we did last year offensively shows that there’s nothing there. There’s no way we could be that successful and there be an issue between quarterback and OC.
“I think our relationship is great and the way all our offense works together is the best part of what Todd has done since that first year with the new stuff — let everyone contribute. This is ‘our offense,’ it’s not his offense. For a coordinator to put ego aside to say this is not my offense it is all of our offense and to take advice from coaches, from players, things like that, I think just speaks volumes for him.”
On the morning before he took the field for the first practice of his 12th training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Roethlisberger touched on a number of topics:
• On going strong at age 33 and the oldest player on offense: “It’s crazy because I guess if you think about playing this game long enough in my position, that’s going to happen at some point — you’re going to be the oldest guy on the team. You have to be blessed, you have to be lucky to have that opportunity because it means you stay healthy.”
• On whether there is more immediacy to accomplish things because of his age: “You want to do it now, not because I feel I’m older. I feel great. I feel I’m playing well. My arm is great. I feel like we’ve got a great team.
“I’m not going to cheat myself, I don’t want to cheat guys by looking forward. I want to look right now, just focus on this year because this might be it. Who knows? Who knows when your body breaks down?
“I’ve always said I’ll play until the good Lord or Mr. Rooney says I can’t.”
• Having been suspended for four games to start the 2010 season, Roethlisberger said he knows how Bell feels about facing his three-game suspension this year:
“It’s tough because you want to be out there for your guys. You feel like you’re letting them down. He looks great, in great shape. I know he’s dedicated himself even more.
“That’s the mentality you have to take. You feel you’re letting your guys down so ‘I’m going to do everything I can so when I come back I can hit it full stride and not miss a beat.’”
• Bell, Brown and Roethlisberger will appear in a major Nike commercial that was filmed in Los Angeles three weeks ago to introduce a new product line. Roethlisberger has not gone out of his way to seek commercials or other big marketing campaigns as other quarterbacks have, such as Peyton Manning.
“I don’t want to really do a lot of stuff. I’d rather spend time with my family. It depends on what they want — do they want me to fly somewhere and do commercials and this and that? That’s not my thing. I’d rather lay low. I did that just because it sounded really neat.”
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