Ben Roethlisberger expected to regress this season?

By Matt Johnson
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has terrorized opposing defenses for more than a decade. Entering his 17th NFL season, though, it sounds like several coaches and executives are expecting major regression from the future Hall of Famer.

Roethlisberger missed 14 games during the 2019 season after undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. While his teammates and general manager, might be expecting huge things from Big Ben in 2020, many around the league seem to feel differently.

NFL coach, executive express doubt about Ben Roethlisberger’s abilities

The Athletic’s Mike Sando revealed his 2020 quarterback tiers on Monday with input from coaches and executives from across the league. When Roethlisberger hits the field this season, the 38-year-old clearly won’t be held in the same regard as previous years.

“I’m concerned,” an executive said, via The Athletic. “Ben is a little bit like Philip Rivers, a statue back there now, and there are durability concerns. Things have to be right, and he does not have the same weapons he had the last time he played for a long period of time. I saw him in the tunnel last season and, my God, he had that beard going and looked more like one of their offensive linemen.”

We can’t fault the executive for cracking jokes about Roethlisberger’s glorious beard, which NFL fans had fun with this offseason. While no one will have any issue recognizing him with the quarantine beard gone, the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback might not be as physically talented as he used to be.

Heading into the 2020 season, Big Ben will need to hope JuJu Smith-Schuster can rediscover his top form. If he doesn’t and the rest of the supporting cast struggles, Pittsburgh’s 38-year-old quarterback likely won’t be good enough to carry it to wins.

“I think Ben is partially done,” a defensive coordinator said. “I give Ben right now a low-end three and he could easily drop to a four. I don’t think the name carries the weight it used to. I didn’t think he was great once Antonio Brown left. Can he get back to where he was at one time?”

Sando’s tiered rankings put quarterbacks on a one (Patrick Mahomes) to five scale. While Roethlisberger still received 11 tier-one votes and 34 tier-two votes, there is some fear he could fall to tier four with the likes of Marcus Mariota, Tyrod Taylor and Mitch Trubisky.

It would still be an upgrade over Pittsburgh’s quarterback situation last year. For a team that enters the season with Super Bowl aspirations, though, regression from Big Ben would prove fatal to their championship hopes.