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Old 02-27-2007, 08:42 AM   #1
alittlejazzbird
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Default Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

I think, with Coach Tomlin in the house, that we've seen the end of "last on the field, first off" as it pertains to young Mr. Roethlisberger. And props to Ron Cook for his take on the Whisenhunt comments.

************************************************** ***********************
Ron Cook: Big Ben must return with better work ethic
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's quite plausible, as former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt suggested over the weekend, that Ben Roethlisberger's physical trauma contributed significantly to his lousy season in 2006. It had to have some impact, didn't it? A near-death experience in a horrific motorcycle accident. An emergency appendectomy. A concussion. How much abuse can a body take? How much mental anguish?

But while we're talking plausible, here's another theory:

Big Ben's poor work habits had just as much to do with his rotten play.

In that sense, Whisenhunt's candid observations about Roethlisberger at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis might do the Steelers considerable harm. The last thing Roethlisberger needs about now is an excuse. A kick in the fanny from new coach Mike Tomlin, perhaps. But definitely not an excuse.

In fairness to Whisenhunt, now the Arizona Cardinals' head coach, he wasn't trying to put the Steelers in a bad spot. He merely answered a question about the potential impact of Roethlisberger's injuries and appendectomy on his performance. He said, stressing hindsight, that he, along with everyone else in the organization, including former coach Bill Cowher, might have underestimated the effects of the accident on Roethlisberger. He said he noticed Roethlisberger seemed gun-shy in the pocket much of the season. He also said, again in hindsight, that the team might have been better off playing backup Charlie Batch in the second game against the Jacksonville Jaguars instead of starting Roethlisberger, who was just 15 days past his appendectomy and had missed the opener against the Miami Dolphins.

An honest answer to a fair question, to be sure.

But let's get one thing straight:

Hindsight or no hindsight, Cowher, Whisenhunt and the others did nothing wrong in their handling of Roethlisberger last season. Team doctors cleared Roethlisberger. He wanted to play. He's the franchise quarterback. The Steelers had to play him. They can live with his failures, his 23 interceptions, the team's disappointing 8-8 record. But losing with their backup quarterback would have been intolerable.

No one can say for sure what effects Roethlisberger's trauma had on him. Even now, he probably can't determine that. How do you measure something so ambiguous?

What we do know, though, is Roethlisberger almost certainly would have played better if he had cared more about his job. Maybe it was his immaturity. He won't turn 25 until Friday. Maybe he was a bit too full of himself after his first two NFL seasons were so spectacular. Who knows? But it wasn't exactly a secret at the Steelers' South Side headquarters that Big Ben wasn't the team's hardest worker. A lot of people -- team executives, coaches and even players -- joked how he frequently was the last on and the first off the practice field, although they didn't see much humor in it. Seldom did he stay after practice to throw to his receivers and work on his timing with them even though Hines Ward missed training camp with a hamstring injury, Nate Washington was getting his first real playing time and Santonio Holmes was a rookie. Maybe it would have been different if he had been putting in extra time in the film room. But he wasn't. He's no Peyton Manning that way.

It's nice to think Roethlisberger learned from everything that happened to him last year. One day soon, when he meets with the local media for the first time since the end of last season, he'll be asked about Whisenhunt's comments. Here's hoping he responds by saying: "You know what? I didn't play well last season. The reasons don't matter. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Actually, Roethlisberger said something along those lines after he threw two interceptions in a home loss to the Baltimore Ravens in December, a defeat that eliminated the Steelers from playoff contention.

"I told some of the receivers and some of the other guys that we need to get better. I'm going to stay around here a lot. We'll work out together this offseason and get better together."

Thursday is March 1.

It's time for Roethlisberger to start living up to his word and honoring his commitment.

It's up to Tomlin to make sure he does.

Getting Big Ben right has to be the new coaching staff's No. 1 priority.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/pp/07058/765245.stm
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Old 02-27-2007, 09:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

Cook lost me right here:

"Hindsight or no hindsight, Cowher, Whisenhunt and the others did nothing wrong in their handling of Roethlisberger last season."

Um, yes they did, Ron. Proof? Raiders game - Ben had no business being on that field.

Cook also lost me further with this:

"Team doctors cleared Roethlisberger."

So what?!? As I mentioned in another thread about a book I read written by a former team doctor of the Raiders, some of the injuries these team doctors are forcibly coerced into clearing would turn a person's stomach.

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Old 02-27-2007, 09:50 AM   #3
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Thumbs up Re: Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

Very good article, and right on target, IMO. There were many instances last season where I thought they should have put Batch in the game. I think there is a lot of blame to go around for the season Ben and the rest of the team had, but most of it has to do with Ben himself. And I think he knows that. Please don't get me wrong: I love the big guy; he's the best QB we have had in a looonng time, but he's going to have to grow up and be a leader if he wants to take this team back to the playoffs next season. And being a leader means sometimes you have to step back and do what's best for yourself and the team as a whole. If you know you can't go full throttle, let somebody else step up and do the job.
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Old 02-27-2007, 09:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

"But it wasn't exactly a secret at the Steelers' South Side headquarters that Big Ben wasn't the team's hardest worker. A lot of people -- team executives, coaches and even players -- joked how he frequently was the last on and the first off the practice field, although they didn't see much humor in it. Seldom did he stay after practice to throw to his receivers and work on his timing with them even though Hines Ward missed training camp with a hamstring injury, Nate Washington was getting his first real playing time and Santonio Holmes was a rookie. Maybe it would have been different if he had been putting in extra time in the film room. But he wasn't. He's no Peyton Manning that way."

Interesting. I guess this is just one of those examples of where "the media is just trying to stir it up!". Nothing to see here folks, nothing to see here. Move along. Keep moving.

As for his medical clearance. I was and still am of the strong opinion that if the doc gives you the green light, then you play. Were there times that Ben should have been taken out of games? Sure. Oakland game comes to mind. But I can't blame Cowher for giving Ben the thumbs up after getting clearance from the team doctor. IMO, the majority of HC's in the NFL would have done the same with their franchise QB in that situation. Once again, I'm not a doctor and even if I were I'm not the TEAM doctor so who am I to say the team doctor was wrong? Just my opinion.

Eitherway, his injury is in the past now. At this point, I'm more concerned with the "work ethic" statements.
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Old 02-27-2007, 10:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

Just to clarify my earlier statement - do I think Ben needs to watch more film? Absolutely. But for Cook to basically suggest that "more film study" would have led to him playing better in a game like the Oakland game, for example, after having his brains scrambled in Atlanta the week before is ridiculous.

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Old 02-27-2007, 10:13 AM   #6
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Default Re: Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

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Originally Posted by fansince'76 View Post
Just to clarify my earlier statement - do I think Ben needs to watch more film? Absolutely. But for Cook to basically suggest that "more film study" would have led to him playing better in a game like the Oakland game, for example, after having his brains scrambled in Atlanta the week before is ridiculous.

I dont even think they should have let him on the flight to Oakland for that game. I dont care if he is the franchise QB or not, his health should have been the important thing, and I believe the coaches were more concerned about winning than if he was healthy or not. Just because you are medically cleared to play doesnt mean you are mentally ready to play
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Old 02-27-2007, 10:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

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Originally Posted by TackleMeBen View Post
I dont even think they should have let him on the flight to Oakland for that game. I dont care if he is the franchise QB or not, his health should have been the important thing, and I believe the coaches were more concerned about winning than if he was healthy or not. Just because you are medically cleared to play doesnt mean you are mentally ready to play
If you're interested in a good read on the subject, check out "You're Okay, It's Just a Bruise" by Rob Huizenga. After reading that, I don't put a hell of a lot of stock in a player being "medically cleared" by a team doctor, sorry. In a multi-billion dollar game where everybody wants to see the best 22 players from both teams lined up against each other on Sunday, the consideration of players' health (especially long term) takes a back seat. My opinion on this is quite strong, as you can see.
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Old 02-27-2007, 10:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

This is an interesting topic... because I remember commentators the first year or two talking about how Ben would be out in the rain... the only one on the field, with his QB coach throwing the football before games.

I wonder if this "Work Ethic Problem" was actually more of a result of the trauma to his body. This year will be a telling year in the career of Big Ben, and in the future of the Steelers.
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Old 02-27-2007, 10:37 AM   #9
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Default Re: Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

since when does a concussion the week before automatically cause a qb to throw int's the following week? it never seemed to happen with aikman or young.

i think you hold a player out because of risk of another concussion, not because they will turn into an interception machine. throwing a ball on target should come as easy as riding a bike. as far as the medical clearance, there are all sorts of mental aptitude tests he would have to pass in order to be cleared. he should not have been benched as long as trent green was.

but kudos to whiz for sticking up for his ex qb and giving him the benefit of the doubt as opposed to the "team executives, coaches and even players" who are now coming out that ben doesnt give all the effort he needs to.
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Old 02-27-2007, 10:40 AM   #10
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Default Re: Big Ben Must Return With Better Work Ethic

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Originally Posted by fansince'76 View Post
If you're interested in a good read on the subject, check out "You're Okay, It's Just a Bruise" by Rob Huizenga. After reading that, I don't put a hell of a lot of stock in a player being "medically cleared" by a team doctor, sorry. In a multi-billion dollar game where everybody wants to see the best 22 players from both teams lined up against each other on Sunday, the consideration of players' health (especially long term) takes a back seat. My opinion on this is quite strong, as you can see.
Yes I see you have a strong opinion on this.. and thanks for the recommendation for a new book. I am looking for a good read.
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