Steelers coach Randy Fichtner can’t wait to get Ben Roethlisberger back this season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers fell short of making the playoffs last season, but they came alarmingly close for a team whose starting quarterback only managed to play two games. Riding a stout defense that frequently forced turnovers, the Steelers improved to 8-5 after a rough 0-3 start, and though many believed they should’ve tanked with Ben Roethlisberger out, they pursued a playoff spot and traded their first-round pick for the impressive Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges were incapable of replacing Big Ben as the signal caller, and the team lost its last three games to fall to 8-8, finishing just outside of the AFC playoff picture.
Fortunately, with that stingy defense still intact and a healthy Roethlisberger returning to action in 2020, the Steelers have the makings of an AFC dark horse contender this year if he can stay healthy. After Pittsburgh finished No. 31 in the NFL in passing yards last season, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner can’t wait to have Big Ben back under center.
“Normalcy now becomes Ben Roethlisberger back in the huddle,” Fichtner told Joe Rutter of TribLive.com.
Big Ben should start taking snaps on Aug. 17, when the Steelers are allowed to put pads on, but Fichtner is looking to make the most of the 14 padded practices they’ll be allowed before the regular season starts in September.
“We’ll have to take advantage of the game situations we can present for him against our defense,” he said. “Naturally, the first thing is to get a feel for where he’s at. His body and his arm will tell us.”
Obviously, Fichtner is excited about having a proven, Super Bowl-winning quarterback back at the helm. Because Pittsburgh did not draft a prospect at quarterback to succeed him, a healthy Big Ben is really all they’ve got to depend on.
“What Ben brings to the table is so unique,” he said. “The experience he has in the red zone, which we so sorely missed last year, obviously, with the young quarterbacks. He has so many in-helmet perspectives. You’re not going to fool him. He’s going to throw a touchdown where you say, ‘Wow.’
“That’s what those experienced, top-flight, best quarterbacks in the league do. His abilities on third down, that’s the experience. That’s the thing you can’t put a value on that he brings to the table.”