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Ben Roethlisberger questions rookie Le’Veon Bell’s work ethic

Le'Veon-Bell-SteelersPittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell could return from a foot injury on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Early speculation indicated that the rookie would likely be held out at least through the team’s Week 5 bye, so the prospect of Bell playing this weekend makes it seem like he has been working hard and is ahead of schedule. Ben Roethlisberger obviously does not see it that way.

During his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger seemed to question Bell’s work ethic.

“Honestly, I have no idea with him,” Roethlisberger said when asked when he expects Bell back, via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “You can’t get a read on him. One day, he’s practicing, one day, he’s not; one day, he’s going hard, the next day, he’s not. I wish I could.

“If he was a guy like Heath Miller that you knew was busting his butt every day to get back there … Le’Veon is a rookie, I don’t know him quite well enough yet. But if he can come back and help us, we’ll take him.”

Miller returned last week after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL during the offseason.

It sounds like Big Ben feels the former Michigan State star could use a little motivation. The Steelers running game has been nonexistent through the first three games of the season. They rank 31st in the league with 51.7 yards per game on the ground. Bell bruised his knee in training camp and was unable to play in Pittsburgh’s first preseason game. He then suffered a minor ligament tear in his foot and has not played since.

Head coach Mike Tomlin expressed more optimism over Bell’s progress than Roethlisberger.

“We are excited about watching him be a full participant this week during the course of practice,” Tomlin said. “We will let that dictate his play, but we are optimistic about his availability.”

The Steelers could certainly use a back who is willing to hit holes and run with a purpose. Frustrations are building and players are barking at their coaches as the team digs itself into a deeper hole. Time will tell if Bell can help them climb out of it.

Ben Roethlisberger had ‘frustration’ with Todd Haley’s system

Ben RoethlisbergerBen Roethlisberger admitted to having some frustration with Todd Haley’s offensive system last year, but things seem better between the two.

Haley was brought in as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive coordinator after losing his job as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. The relationship between Haley and Roethlisberger started off shaky; Big Ben described the offense as “dink and dunk” and lamented the lack of big plays. Later in the season, he apologized for criticizing Haley’s playcalling following a loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on Saturday, Roethlisberger admitted to having frustration with Haley last year, mostly over the terminology used for the offense.

“He brought it in and (said) ‘Here’s my stuff, here’s what we’re going to do.’ So it was hard for us to say, ‘Hey, we were pretty doggone good last year, what were we 12-4?’” Roethlisberger told the Tribune-Review. “We would say, ‘Oh, we know this play, it’s the same thing we had, but it’s called completely different.’ So why not call it the same thing? So there was a lot of frustration with that.”

Roethlisberger also said he liked the no-huddle offense the team used during one stretch last season and was disappointed when they went away from it. But it sounds like things are getting better. Roethlisberger seems to believe the two are on the same page when it comes to visions for the offense (Roethlisberger wants it up-tempo). He also says Haley made a big concession by telling the Steelers veterans they could call plays by whatever language they’re most comfortable using.

The Steelers may have some obstacles to overcome this year. Roethlisberger had his knee scoped last month and had a serious rib/shoulder injury last year. He also lost one of his favorite targets — deep threat Mike Wallace — who left for the Miami Dolphins in free agency. The last thing he needed was to worry about was getting confused by terminology for plays.

Ben Roethlisberger on Steelers: ‘There are no issues on our team’

The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled through a disappointing 8-8 season last year, which is quite uncharacteristic for one of the NFL’s most successful franchises. As if the team did not already have enough issues to work through in order to get back to the playoffs next season, the coaches and players have also had to deal with anonymous teammates ripping one another.

Last week, former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said he believes the team is in “total disarray” and lacks leadership. Ben Roethlisberger took offense to his former teammate’s assertion.

“For anybody to say there are locker room issues or leadership issues are completely off base,” Roethlisberger said Thursday, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I believe that’s the frustration. I believe that it’s frustration of last year, I honestly do.”

Ward’s criticism was aimed at the fact that an anonymous Steelers player reportedly blasted linebacker LaMarr Woodley for having poor workout habits that led to his inability to stay healthy. Ward said that type of loose-lipped spouting off would have never happened when he was with the team.

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Ben Roethlisberger apologizes to Todd Haley for ripping playcalling

Ben Roethlisberger said he took complete blame for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, but he also took the opportunity to publicly question offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s decision-making. Roethlisberger said he was disappointed that the team strayed away from the no-huddle in the second half and wondered why tight end Heath Miller was not more involved after his big first half.

Apparently Big Ben later realized that calling out one of his coaches in public was unprofessional.

“I actually came in (Monday) and apologized to Todd, apologized to Mike (Tomlin), apologized to Mr. (Dan) Rooney, just because I did let my frustrations jump out after a game,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I don‘t usually do that, I usually keep it under control, (it was) just frustrations on myself. I‘ll be better at that.

“I apologized for the storm it created and caused.”

The fact that Roethlisberger has not been thrilled with Haley since the offseason is hardly a secret. However, the important thing to remember about Sunday’s loss to Dallas is that Roethlisberger threw a crucial interception in overtime that handed the Cowboys the ball in field goal range. You could argue that the Steelers could have avoided overtime with a better offensive plan in the second half, but Roethlisberger had the ball in his hands with a chance to win the game. Haley didn’t throw the interception.

As for the future, Haley and Roethlisberger need to find a way to work together if Pittsburgh hopes to make the playoffs. If the Steelers lose to the Bengals this weekend, the fans aren’t going to care if the issue was playcalling or execution.

H/T Around the League
Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Ben Roethlisberger questions Steelers’ playcalling in loss to Cowboys

Mike-Tomlin-Ben-RoethlisbergerAfter losing a tough game to the Dallas Cowboys, the Pittsburgh Steelers must win out in order to stand a chance at making the playoffs. Sunday’s game was a back-and-forth affair that placed the ball in Ben Roethlisberger’s hands with a chance to win in overtime. Rather than coming through in the clutch, Roethlisberger made a horrible throw that resulted in an interception, giving the Cowboys the ball in field goal range and essentially handing them the victory.

Despite the crucial mistake, Roethlisberger was not willing to fully take the blame for the loss after the game. Instead, he seemed unhappy with some of Pittsburgh’s playcalling. Tight end Heath Miller, who was effective in the first half, did not catch a single ball in the second half.

“I just don’t think we called the right plays to get (Miller) the ball,” Roethlisberger said after the game, via Pro Football Talk.

The Steelers scored 14 points in the second half compared to 10 in the first, but Big Ben expressed disappointment in the offense’s decision to get away from the no-huddle attack.

“That’s tough for me to answer right now,” he said. “The second half we didn’t do much of it, and that’s disappointing.”

Did I say not willing to fully take the blame? It turns out Roethlisberger did that, too.

“Yes, absolutely (the loss was my fault),” Roethlisberger said according to the Star-Telegram. “One hundred percent. It’s on me. I let the team, the fans, everybody down.”

If we were talking about any other team, it would be a lot easier to chalk Roethlisberger’s comments up to mere frustration after a brutal loss. However, this is not the first time he has openly criticized offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s playcalling. The relationship between Haley and Roethlisberger has appeared rocky from the start, and it would stand to reason that it could get worse if the Steelers wind up missing the postseason.

Ben Roethlisberger: Steelers deserved to get booed

The Pittsburgh Steelers embarrassed themselves during a 34-24 Week 14 home loss to the San Diego Chargers last Sunday, and the fans even booed the team at different points in the game.

The boos were most noticeable after receiver Mike Wallace dropped a pass during the second quarter when the team was only down 3-0. Even though Wallace finished with seven catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns, what stood out to the fans was that play, especially after Wallace had limited production the previous four games.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seemed to come to Wallace’s defense by grouping the entire offense together. He says he really let his teammates hear it during halftime of the game.

“I laid into the whole offense, not just Mike,” Roethlisberger told reporters this week, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I think we all deserved to get booed, which I feel like we did.”

It’s odd to hear Roethlisberger say the offense deserved to get booed when, earlier in the week, he seemed to be upset with fans for booing the team.

“Nobody should ever get booed. We are out there busting our butt,” Roethlisberger said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Nobody intentionally does anything to hurt the team. I don’t intentionally throw interceptions and guys don’t intentionally miss blocks or fumble. We don’t intentionally do it.”

Wallace probably is a different case from the rest of the team. Steelers fans didn’t like it when he held out and were probably upset over his contract demands, which were reported to be outrageous.

The bottom line is the Steelers are 7-6 and in danger of missing the playoffs. They need to start playing better and winning if they want the booing to stop. They have a big game on Sunday in Dallas that will have a huge impact on the postseason chances for both teams.

via SBB Live

Ben Roethlisberger worth four points against the spread, more than Jay Cutler

Several big-name NFL quarterbacks got injured last weekend, creating difficult spots for their teams, and changes in the point spreads. Unsurprisingly, the injury to Ben Roethlisberger has the most significant effect on the spread.

Per Pregame.com, here’s how much each starting quarterback’s injury is worth to his team’s point spread:

Big Ben: 4 points
Jay Cutler: 2 points
Alex Smith: 1.5 points
Michael Vick: 1 point

The difference in the spread is as much to do with the quarterback’s ability as it does the dropoff in talent level compared to the backup.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are going from Roethlisberger to Byron Leftwich. Roethlisberger and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler are on a close level, but the difference in backups is huge. Chicago’s backup quarterback is Jason Campbell, who led the Raiders to an 11-7 record as their starter the past two seasons. Leftwich started five games from 2007-2011, and his teams went 0-5.

The 49ers have been winning mostly thanks to their defense and run game, not their passing game. The slight change in spread indicates they would be expected to do almost as well under Colin Kaepernick as Alex Smith. Right now, it looks like Smith will be cleared to start for San Francisco, so the spread would not be changed.

Michael Vick has been ruled out this week for the Eagles, and his concussion is significant enough to potentially keep him out for the rest of the season. The team hasn’t been playing too well with him, so a change to rookie Nick Foles, who seems pretty capable, presents little dropoff.

Other quarterbacks to compare:

Peyton Manning: 6.5 points
Tom Brady: 6 points
Aaron Rodgers: 6 points
Matt Ryan: 4 points
Eli Manning: 4 points
Matthew Stafford: 2 points

It’s debatable that Peyton would be worth more points than Brady and Rodgers. That could have to do with Peyton’s role as a coach/offensive coordinator on the field, as well as the difference in backups. Behind Peyton is rookie Brock Osweiler, while Brady (Ryan Mallett) and Rodgers (Graham Harrell) have backups with slightly more experience.

Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE