Whether or not you start any Steeler this weekend once again hinges on Ben Roethlisberger’s health. And whether or not you’d like to believe that Roethlisberger is starting depends on which words pop up on your computer screen first. So we’ll give you all the words, and then we can all be confused together.
First, know that there’s reason to feel good, cheery, and jovial. That comes from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, with Gerry Dulac simply and concisely noting that Roethlisberger is expected to start this weekend against the Chargers. The abruptness of his statement carries an element of truthiness. We’re conditioned to know that people often need a lot of words to lie. Therefore, going forward every post in this space will be no longer than 10 words (Ben Roethlisberger might play and he might not…done).
Ok, so we’re finished here then, right? Ha.
Mike Tomlin still relayed a sense of tranquil optimism during his Tuesday meeting with the media leeches, but since we’re in the business here of reading far too deeply into words that likely only contain half truths, let’s examine what he said.
“Ben will be given an opportunity to prove whether or not he is healthy. Obviously Charlie Batch is our guy game planning right now.”
The words that stand out here are “opportunity,” and “not”. Basically, while Dulac is likely right, Tomlin’s stance — or at least his public stance — is in direct opposition to him, as the head coach says Big Ben’s status on this Tuesday is essentially exactly the same as last Tuesday. Except for the fact that his health has presumably improved over the past week. Yes, that part is important.
You’ll monitor this, and you’ll do it closely. That’s an order, because although Charlie Batch leading an offense that beat the Ravens is a fun little story, no Steelers player is startable if he’s still under center. That includes Jonathan Dwyer, who will remain the starting running back, but he had only 49 rushing yards on 3.1 yards per carry last week against a run defense that’s allowing 125.8 rushing yards weekly. No support from the passing game and consistently facing eight men in the box will do that to you.
The exception is Heath Miller, the safest safety valve for a 37-year-old quarterback. Miller had a season high 97 receiving yards Sunday night, which includes a 43-yard catch (also a season high). But combined during Batch’s two starts in which he’s thrown for 475 yards, only 246 of those yards have gone to Steelers wide receivers. That’s bad, but it doesn’t sound too horrible until you think past your freshest Batch memory, and remember that last week against the Browns 14 of Batch’s 20 completions went to players who don’t play wide receiver, and eight landed in the hands of four different running backs. Oh, and of those six wide receiver catches, five went to Emmanuel Sanders, and Mike Wallace only had one for nine yards.
Please come back, Ben. We need you. We miss your scent, and we miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, we should get an apartment together.