The Athletic's Ed Bouchette said Ben Roethlisberger's surgically repaired right elbow should be stronger this year than it was in 2020.
Bouchette reports the Steelers in 2020 "devised a short passing game with a quick release from Roethlisberger" after the quarterback underwent surgery to reattach three flexor tendons that had torn off the bone. This naturally led to career lows in Roethlisberger's yards per attempt and yards per completion. Roethlisberger and the team expect him to have a stronger, more fully recovered throwing arm headed into the 2021 season. Bouchette said Roethlisberger is throwing far less this offseason than he was in the months leading up to Steelers training camp in 2020. “Last year, I threw thousands of balls in the offseason because we were rehabbing,’’ Roethlisberger said last week. “This year, it has gone back to the normal routine of throwing here, doing a little bit at home with the trainer. But mostly taking time off. I took a lot of time off from throwing so I hope and think and really believe it will pay dividends this year.” Roethlisberger was fantasy's QB12 before the team rested him during their season finale against Cleveland. His pass catchers -- especially deep threat Chase Claypool -- could be underdrafted if the 39 year old's reconstructed elbow has indeed gotten stronger.
SOURCE: The Athletic
Jun 7, 2021, 11:13 AM ET
Steelers released RG David DeCastro.
The move was a complete shock until NFL Network's Mike Garafolo added that DeCastro has been dealing with an ankle issue for "quite some time" and is considering retirement. Pittsburgh saves $8.8 million by releasing DeCastro but it's clear that this was never their plan. He was released with a non-football injury designation meaning that if he is hurt, it happened away from the team. DeCastro was one of just two starting linemen set to return from the 2020 season for Pittsburgh. The other, Chuks Okorafor, is expected to be transitioning from left to right tackle this offseason. The amount of turnover this unit is going through is staggering and doesn't bode well for their prospects in the upcoming season. DeCastro has been to six consecutive Pro Bowls and has started 124 games for the Steelers in the past nine years. Pittsburgh did little to address their splintering offensive line in free agency and the draft, leaving them with a group of bigs that will likely be bullied by most defensives. Add in Ben Roethlisberger's declining arm and the Steelers' offense is now leaning over the edge of a bottomless cliff.
Posted by Charean Williams on July 13, 2021, 11:32 PM EDT
Ben Roethlisberger has won 156 regular-season games and 13 playoff games, including two Super Bowls. Thirty-four of those victories, and one of the Super Bowls, came with Bill Cowher as his coach.
Even though the quarterback is 39, Cowher doesn’t expect anything less from Roethlisberger and the Steelers this season.
“Consistently, year in and year out, he is a great competitor,” Cowher said Tuesday, via Nate Davis of USA Today. “I’m sure he’s just thriving right now on the fact that everyone thinks that he’s done, (that) the Steelers are done.
“I used to always say to people, ‘The greatest thing in sports is to do something nobody thinks you can do.’ And I think right now, Ben is just thriving on that, and he can’t wait to get out there – probably champing at the bit to prove (it). I would be very surprised if he didn’t have a great year this year.”
The Steelers drafted Roethlisberger with the 11th overall choice in 2004, and Cowher admits he thought Eli Manning and Philip Rivers were more NFL-ready than Roethlisberger was. But injuries to Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch sped up the Steelers’ timetable for Roethlisberger, who entered the starting lineup in Week 3.
The Steelers went 13-0 in the regular season and 1-1 in the postseason with Roethlisberger as their starter in 2004, losing in the AFC Championship Game to the Patriots.
“He went from managing the game to winning games, and I was just amazed at – not just with his athleticism and his size, but his feel for the game,” Cowher said. “He could see the field better than anybody. He got comfortable outside the pocket. Not afraid to make throws. It was never too big for him.”
He probably had the best turnaround of any quarterback. Makes you wonder a bit who might have been abandoned too early in the age of analytics.
Playing QB in the NFL used to be a lot harder, not to say Bradshaw didn't suck, just not quite as bad as it seems if you compare to modern QBs.
In 1970 only 4 QBs had a rating over 80, only 2 over 90.
In 1970 7 QBs, including Bradshaw, completed less than 50% of their passes.
In 1970 14 QBs had at least 7 starts and threw more INTs than TDs.
In 1970 Joe Kapp had 3 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
As pointed out by @theoashnfl on TikTok and explained by Joe Hoefling of Deadspin.com, Roethlisberger has a very basic yet very clear pre-snap tell, which gives away whether the next play will be a run or a pass.
It comes in shotgun formation, which the Steelers use for the vast majority of their offensive plays. (Via Warren Sharp, 83 percent of the team’s 2020 offensive snaps came in shotgun, third in the NFL behind the Ravens at 97 percent and the Cardinals at 92.)
It goes like this: When it’s a run, Roethlisberger stands flat-footed before the snap. When it’s a pass, he lifts his left heel off the ground before the snap. He does that even when he fakes the handoff before throwing the ball.
Anyone who has ever heard someone like Chris Spielman explain the process of breaking down film for tendencies or tells (and it’s mesmerizing) will tell you that this is precisely the kind of thing for which defensive coaches and players spend hours searching. The teams that have prepared to play the Steelers surely have seen it, and they undoubtedly have incorporated it into their planning.
Maybe that’s why the Steelers couldn’t run the ball very well last year. If the defense knows the answer to the fundamental of run or pass before the snap, it changes everything.
It also may help explain the drops by Pittsburgh’s receivers. The linebackers and defensive backs who get a look at Ben’s left foot know before the play begins that he’s going to be throwing the ball to someone who can then be targeted for a big (and clean and legal) hit. That can either jar the ball loose and/or get the receiver who is bracing for the next big (and clean and legal) hit to lose focus on catching the ball.
There’s another important point here that underscores one of the concerns that had been raised regarding the team’s offense last season. When using the run-pass option, Ben seemed to lean too heavily toward the pass. Based on his left-foot tell, he apparently made the decision before the snap, eschewing the challenge of reading the defense during the play to determine whether to hand it off or hold it and throw.
And there’s no telling how long this tell has been in place. The attached photo comes from Super Bowl XLIII, and it shows why he’s inclined to lift his back heel before the snap. His first motion once the snap starts is to lift that foot off the ground.
If the Steelers didn’t already know about it, they do now. And they need to iron it out before Week One at Buffalo.
The fact that it happened all year long makes the team’s 11-0 start even more impressive. It’s hard enough to win one game when the defense can crack the run-or-pass code on a consistent basis. It’s damn near impossible to win five, six, seven, or more.
So this is good news for the Steelers. Take away that tell, and the offense immediately becomes more unpredictable and, in turn, harder to stop. Throw in a defense that still has plenty of great players, and the Steelers could be ready to make a serious run at the top of a top-heavy conference.
Posted by Michael David Smith on July 21, 2021, 6:07 PM EDT
Steelers linebacker Vince Williams has announced his retirement, just before the start of training camp.
“Vince Williams notified us today that he will retire from the game of football,” Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement.
“We respect his decision and want to thank him for his time with us as he consistently showed great character and leadership in addition to his contributions on the field. We wish Vince and his family all the best.”
The 31-year-old Williams started 14 games last season and was expected to start again this season. He’ll be tough to replace, especially this late in the offseason.
The Steelers selected Williams in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft and Pittsburgh has been his only NFL home. Now he’ll say farewell.
Posted by Josh Alper on July 22, 2021, 7:15 PM EDT
Change was the focus of the Steelers offensive line this offseason as they have one starter back from last year and a new position coach leading the unit into the 2021 season.
That returning starter is Chuks Okorafor and he will be moving from right tackle to left tackle, so it’s pretty much an entirely fresh start up front on offense in Pittsburgh. After years of having a line led by center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro, that has left some wondering how effective the unit will be.
On Thursday, head coach Mike Tomlin said he was not in that group and, given last year’s performance, that any lost stability with the unit is not necessarily the same as lost production.
“We don’t have the bar set real high,” Tomlin said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We were last in the league in rushing. We have nowhere to go but up from certain aspects. It’s not something we fear. . . . We’ve got capable guys. There’s an expectation here that those guys are going to deliver. I’m not going to be surprised when they do. As a matter of fact, we expect them to. You can write a rags-to-riches tale . . . like we’re starting at ground zero or in the basement, but we don’t see it that way.”
The Steelers also have a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada, so there will be plenty to do on that side of the ball in the coming weeks beyond putting together the new line in order to make sure that the offense is ready to go for Week 1 of the regular season
The Athletic's Mark Kaboly reports there has been "limited to no outside work" for JuJu Smith-Schuster in training camp.
Smith-Schuster has almost literally been begging for more outside reps, but beat writer Mark Kaboly hasn't seen it since pads went on, save for "individual goal-line work." It's just as well for fantasy, as Smith-Schuster will be funneled cheap PPR looks over the middle of the field. For real life, Smith-Schuster wants the boundary reps to increase his free agent value after his market tanked last spring. You can't always get what you want.
SOURCE: The Athletic
Jul 29, 2021, 7:41 PM ET