Entering his 15th NFL season, and with three Super Bowl appearances (two wins) on his resume, Ben Roethlisberger should have as much freedom as any quarterback in the NFL.
But something came to light last season, after a controversial catch/no-catch by Steelers tight end Jessie James against the New England Patriots and the Steelers botched the subsequent situation. After the game Roethlisberger suggested he was waiting for a play call from the sideline, which delayed the entire process that ultimately failed.
After a replay review late in a game, with time to communicate, making a quarterback wait for a play call from the sideline is inexplicable. A quarterback of Roethlisberger’s caliber and experience should also have some clear leeway to call his own plays in critical situations.
With Todd Haley gone and Randy Fichtner adding offensive coordinator duties to his previous role as quarterbacks coach, Roethlisberger will call most of his own plays this year. More no-huddle will also be implemented, which Roethlisberger is looking forward to.
For sure,” “which makes me study more, meet with Randy more, doing all that stuff, even more than in the past, which is fine. I always did a lot of stuff but if they’re going to put that trust in me then I have to then reward them with the knowledge that I’m going to do the right thing, call the right plays.
The Steelers are a shotgun-heavy offense, running 71 percent of their plays from the formation last year (fifth-most in the league, via Sharp Football Stats). That lends itself well to a fast pace, and Roethlisberger added what he wants from Fichtner between plays.
Not necessarily tell me what to do but tell me here’s a tendency. Or, ‘Ben, third and long, remember their top tendency.’ Just kind of some reminders as we’re going because when you’re out in the heat of it, you’re not always remembering what their No. 1 third-down coverage is or second third-down coverage, things like that.
Fichtner seems ready to give Roethlisberger ownership of the Steelers’ offense in a way Haley and Bruce Arians would not or could not. It’s long overdue, but a veteran Super Bowl-winning quarterback can finally fully operate like one.