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mesaSteeler
07-21-2012, 11:33 PM
Cook: Let's not forget, Ben Roethlisberger is still a Steeler
July 22, 2012 12:00 am
By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/ron-cook/cook-lets-not-forget-ben-roethlisberger-is-still-a-steeler-645715/?print=1

It's become popular to write off the Steelers in the 2012 season even before they report to training camp Wednesday in Latrobe. ESPN analysts have said the window is closing quickly for the current players. SI.com says this could be the year the team takes a big step back. Others are saying much worse.

Concerns are everywhere, according to the critics. A new offense and new offensive coordinator. A young offensive line that could start two rookies, a second-year man and a third-year pro. A new featured running back. An old defense. A serious void in leadership.

The Baltimore Ravens beat the Steelers twice last season. Why can't they do it again? The Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs last season behind a rookie quarterback. They will be better.

On and on, it goes.

I just have one question.

Does Ben Roethlisberger still play for the Steelers?

No window is closing.

The Steelers do have a new offense with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. They could have an exceptionally young offensive line with rookies David DeCastro and Mike Adams, second-year man Marcus Gilbert and third-year pro Maurkice Pouncey. They will have a new featured back, Ike Redman. The defense is old in spots. Team leaders Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke and, especially, James Farrior are gone.

It's all true.

But none of the issues is insurmountable.

Really, how much different will Haley's offense be? As Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after hiring Haley, "Much of football is universal." The young linemen are extremely talented and quickly could become the best line the team has had in years. Redman, when last seen in January, was running for 121 yards against the Denver Broncos. The defense still has plenty of fight left and just needs James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley to stay healthy. Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton, Larry Foote and Troy Polamalu, and Roethlisberger and Pouncey remain as strong locker-room leaders.

Beyond all of that, I can't get past the edge that Roethlisberger gives the Steelers.

"He's as good as there's ever been," former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was saying over the telephone the other day. "He doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves. You hear about [Peyton] Manning and [Tom] Brady and [Aaron] Rodgers ... Rodgers hasn't touched what Ben has done."

OK, so Arians is biased. He spent the past eight seasons working with Roethlisberger, the past five as his offensive coordinator. But that doesn't change the fact Roethlisberger is the best quarterback in the AFC North Division. He's better than the Ravens' Joe Flacco despite Flacco's silly assertion during the winter that he's the NFL's best. He's better than the Bengals' Andy Dalton, who had a fine rookie year last season.

No step back is going to happen as long as Roethlisberger stays healthy.

Many of us spent much of the offseason agonizing over a potential conflict between Roethlisberger and Haley. That's more a reflection of us than of those two. Agonizing over every little thing about the Steelers is how we spend our winter, spring and much of the summer. That's especially true when the team gets bounced early from the playoffs, as it did in January in Denver. Getting Tebowed still hurts, doesn't it?

In most cases, we waste our time. (True that Cookie boy. - mesa)

We fret over nothing.

I suspect it will be that way with Roethlisberger and Haley.

Yes, Roethlisberger loved playing for Arians. Yes, Haley has the reputation of being a much tougher-love coach than Arians. Yes, Roethlisberger is troubled by the uncertainty that goes with change, just as many of us are. And yes, he has whined about the intricacies of Haley's offense, probably too much.

But Roethlisberger is no fool. Beyond that, he's an incredible competitor who will do anything to win. He has talked openly of adding Super Bowl rings to his collection. He would love to add three more, which would give him five, one more than Steelers Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw. I think, in the end, Roethlisberger will be remembered as the better quarterback, but five rings would leave no doubt.

"Ben is going to be good no matter who is calling the plays," Arians said when asked how he expects Roethlisberger to adjust to Haley. "He has that will to win, that passion. He's a Steeler. He's not going to let his teammates down."

I don't care if Arians is biased.

I couldn't agree with him more.

How can anyone count out the Steelers as long as Roethlisberger is the quarterback?

It's not as if the Ravens don't have flaws. They will play much -- if not most -- of the season without NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs (torn Achilles tendon). It's not as if the Bengals can't be the team that takes the step back. They have had 13 winning seasons in their 44-year existence. They have not had consecutive winning seasons since 1981 and 1982.

I know, it's July 22, still three days before the start of training camp.

Much can happen between now and January.

But if other pundits can opine that the window is closing on these Steelers, I can say that they are the team to beat in the AFC North.

Just stay healthy, No. 7.

Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.

First Published 2012-07-22 00:18:32

tanda10506
07-22-2012, 02:02 AM
I laugh at the fact that commentators say we are stepping back when we have actually had one of the best off season's any team has ever had, yet Baltimore loses their top pass rusher, their ROLB, and their top DE, all while their best defender becomes older then any starting Steeler and they are getting their balls washed. If any other team had a top 5 QB, the #1 defense, and a draft like ours that fixes the only major flaw they had, they would be everybody's SB pic. Instead that's us and they act as if we are the ones that should be worried. The only people still calling the defense old is people who didn't watch the draft nor check our roster. It's rare that the media gets under my skin, but I am just sick of the double standard shit this off season.

Ricco Suavez
07-22-2012, 05:29 AM
When it comes to football news I rarely watch the talking heads of ESPN or the NFL network. So I am not as informed in what their opinion is currently about the state of Steeler Football. But as a fan I am happy about the moves the FO has made this off season, I think it bodes well to the future of the franchise. I also know we lost a lot of older less productive players that were leaders in the clubhouse and someone will have to step up. We ARE older in certain areas and very young in others a combination that could work out very well or be a recipe for some growing pains.

I think we go as far as Ben takes us this year. He is now supposedly in his prime and a veteran. It is time for him to lead. We still have LeBeau and all I can say is "in LeBeau we trust". This season will be like any other season and that is for us to be successful we need to stay healthy, play smarter and harder than our opponents, and get some breaks during the course of the season. Dont know about you but I cant wait.

Rick5895
07-22-2012, 05:59 AM
The NFL and the so called media experts all have love affairs with the Cheatriots (Goodell and Kraft are buddies) Where ever Peyton is, The Pack and Rodgers and Brees. It doesn't shock me they are waiting for a downfall from the Steelers and are always predicting it. We generally are always very good , always competing for championships. The media love to latch onto the so called new upcoming teams (Bungles and Lions come to mind) but the Steelers just go along and win, cut a player or a player retires another steps up and plays the Steeler Way.
Try to keep in mind that the majority of these so called experts that played in the NFL didn't player for the Steelers, they played elsewhere and are , IMO, just jealous they didn't get to play for the best run pro football franchise. Therefore they like to nit pick at "perceived" weaknesses.

My best guess (and I'm biased) is, after a slow start ( new offense and some new starters) we rebound to 12-4 and the AFC North title and a berth in the Super Bowl.

FrancoLambert
07-22-2012, 07:08 AM
I'm glad the spotlight is off Ben this year. All that off the field garbage had to affect him somehow. As a "family man" he can concentrate more on his profession, appreciate where he is, and add to his professional resume. I think Haley can get even more out of him which bodes well for us.

EbonySteel86
07-22-2012, 09:01 AM
I look at this offence as Cowher's with a lot more creativity and a top 5 QB. Sounds deadly to me. I wouldn't want to face it! Can't wait for this season!

OX1947
07-22-2012, 11:43 AM
Pundits talk about Manning, Rodgers, Brees and Brady because they are better quarterbacks then Ben. Pundits probably know that the Steelers are one of the worst front runners in the NFL. They play better when they can use the lame old cliche of "nobody believed in us" card in order to win. I am looking forward to seeing the offensive line perform. Steelers drafting is just amazing and never fails to impress me every single year.

austinfrench76
07-22-2012, 02:07 PM
For once, I completely agree with Arians! Ben is phenominal and I ahve said it in my previous posts, I would not take another QB in the league today over him. Look at the line he has had to play the past few years behind. Brady and Manning would have broken necks and ealry retirement. Go Steelers!

rich4eagle
07-22-2012, 04:02 PM
Ben Roethlisberger is a big time winner! He was in a losing program in college, made it a winner, and now it is a loser again. He has been a winner and will be a winner in the Steeler uniform. He makes plays, makes it happen. He is one of the top few QB's in football. As long as he is around the Steelers will be a force

love the guy, he gives it his all

PATS16N0
07-22-2012, 05:42 PM
I just ignore sports media.

Sports media are no different than political media. It's agenda driven, leaning one direction or the other, and often just full of shit.
When the Patriots lost to the Jets in the 2010 post season, the sports media was hailing Sanchez as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the league... for two weeks.

Last season, following the Patriots destruction of the Broncos in the play offs, sports journalists were saying Brady was the greatest quarterback ever. One week later after being partially stiffed by a formidable Raven defense, I watched the SAME journalists on ESPN talk about how washed up Tom Brady was.

This is the same media that tried to convince us McNabb was one of the greatest quarterbacks ever and that the dog-killer was likely to win the league MVP award before Brady won it unanimously.

They do it with all teams. The media is the biggest bunch of bandwagon jumpers on the face of the earth, quick to claim greatness and equally quick to dig an athletes grave.

I hate sports journalists. Unless, of course, I catch them on a week they're rooting for my team.

Oh, and i'd like to see Skip Bayless lead an NFL team to one Superbowl, nevermind five.

I don't expect the Steelers to be anything less than formidable this season, like every other.