Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

Expectations for Ben Roethlisberger returning from injury in 2020

  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
By Mike Brez March 22, 2020 0 Comment
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After missing nearly the entire 2019 season with an elbow injury, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says he’s throwing without pain.

Last month, the Pittsburgh Steelers released a video of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing the football. It brought hope to Pittsburgh fans to see their star quarterback throwing again. Without any other news following, fans were left with more questions regarding his situation. Outside of the usual formal responses of “everything is on schedule,” Pittsburgh has left the fan base wanting more information.

General manager Kevin Colbert commented on Roethlisberger at the NFL Scouting Combine, saying that Roethlisberger might be better after elbow surgery. Roethlisberger became a hot topic of discussion surrounding the national media on what that means. It’s not every day that a 38-year-old quarterback gets better than he was before.

Roethlisberger broke the silence on Friday, speaking with Ron Cook of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. During the discussion, they talked about his recovery, how it feels to throw the ball again, and the pressure of returning in 2020.

“I have no doubts I’m going to be able to come back and play well — none,” Roethlisberger told Cook. “I have complete confidence in that. I’m throwing without pain for the first time in years. Some games, I would have a little pain. Some games, I would have a lot of pain. But in the New England game and the Seattle game [last season], it got to be too much. To be able to throw without pain now? That feels nice. That’s a nice feeling. I know I’m not getting any younger, but I feel younger because I don’t have any pain.”

In 2019, Roethlisberger started two games before going down with an elbow injury in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. On September 23, the team announced that he would miss the remainder of the season after surgery. Before the trade deadline, Pittsburgh traded away their first-round pick for Miami Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. At the time, the move received all kinds of reactions. Considering Roethlisberger’s age and now a significant injury, it was odd that the Steelers would trade their first-round pick for the upcoming draft. The thought was that the Steelers would land near the front of the picking order without their starting quarterback, which would allow them to draft his successor.

It remains unknown what Pittsburgh will do when Big Ben does step down. Roethlisberger knows that the organization is going all-in on one more Super Bowl appearance with their veteran quarterback.

“There’s pressure, but I put more pressure on myself,” Roethlisberger said Thursday. “As much as the fans and my teammates want me out there, I want to be out there even more. I saw last season what this team is capable of doing. I’m pushing myself to come back better than ever.”

Pittsburgh would have made the playoffs in 2019 if they had even adequate quarterback play. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges took turns throughout the season, filling in at quarterback. It seems clear that neither of them is the answer to take over anytime soon. The offense sustained several injuries throughout the year as well, so it won’t be just Roethlisberger coming back from injury. Can Ben Roethlisberger get one more Super Bowl victory for the Pittsburgh Steelers before he retires?

What are the expectations surrounding Ben Roethlisberger in 2020?

When looking at what to expect from Roethlisberger coming back in 2020, it’s hard to figure out what to expect. At the age of 38 and coming off a season-ending injury, what should our expectations be?

“When talking about expectations for Ben Roethlisberger’s campaign, we need to be realistic. Coming off surgery at the age of 38, fans shouldn’t expect prime Big Ben to resurrect. Even before he was hurt, we saw major signs of him starting to slow down,” says Donnie Druin of Fansided. “However, if Roethlisberger is fully healthy, there’s no reason to think a QB like Ben with solid offensive weapons and a terrific defense shouldn’t make the playoffs, especially considering how close the team was last season.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense was an elite unit in 2019. Leading the NFL in sacks (54), second in interceptions (20), and ranked third in DVOA. Part of that defense includes Minkah Fitzpatrick’s performance since being traded to the Steelers. Fitzpatrick accounted for five of those interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. He also accounted for one forced fumble, two recoveries, and 57 tackles. Following the bye week in Week 7, Pittsburgh’s defense would allow three teams to put up more than 20 points. Even without even average quarterback play most of the season, the Steelers were barely knocked out of the playoffs.

“By no means do I expect him to throw for 5,000 yards or lead Pittsburgh to a 14-2 record, but Roethlisberger still has something to offer as a veteran quarterback that’s still capable of making plays. As for the future, the team still appears to be sold on Mason Rudolph. Prior to his concussion, Rudolph played considerably well. Obviously, the rest of his season didn’t pan out great, yet head coach Mike Tomlin has already come out and established Rudolph as the guy behind Roethlisberger. General Manager Kevin Colbert also stated that the Steelers were “comfortable” with their current QB situation at the NFL Combine.”

It’s hard to imagine the Pittsburgh Steelers beyond Roethlisberger. While Rudolph played adequately early on, it wasn’t the production that would excite you about the future. It was clear that Pittsburgh was keeping the offense simple. At the same time, Rudolph played several games without quality playmakers, including JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner.

“Should a guy they like fall to the second or third, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them take a quarterback. However, simply reading the organization and their comments, it looks like it’s Rudolph’s future for the time being.”

The Steelers aren’t going to give away their plans for the upcoming draft. There’s no telling what they plan to do beyond Big Ben. It’s possible that Roethlisberger plays another couple of seasons. He could also look nothing like he once was when the 2020 season kicks off. Only time will tell, but without a first-round pick in 2020, the Steelers will either wait till 2021 to draft their future, or select another developmental project.

Pittsburgh lost their longtime left guard, Ramon Foster, when he decided to hang up the cleats earlier this week. In an attempt to fill the massive hole that Foster leaves behind, the Steelers signed guard Stefen Wisniewski. Outside of two games last season, we haven’t seen Big Ben without former wide receiver Antonio Brown. The Steelers brought in another pass-catching weapon with the signing of former Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron.

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