Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ben Roethlisberger Weathers The Storm, Forecasts Good Season

"There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. By doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This misunderstanding extends to all things." - Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

The 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers had their share of frustrations. From a new and unfamiliar offense, to injuries to inconsistent play, they certainly saw little sun shine down onto Heinz field, resulting in an 8-8 season. And for this organization, that may as well be a losing season.

The field general of this group of men, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, recently spoke on those frustrations and admitted to being perplexed at times. His 'frustration' with then-new offensive coordinator Todd Haley was one of the well-publicized issues, one that he says, while overblown by the media, has worked itself out.

"He brought it in and (said) 'Here's my stuff, here's what we're going to do.' So it was hard for us....So there was a lot of frustration with that," Big Ben said. "(But) people blew up the hatred thing or the butting heads, there was none of that."

He also talked about the changes that he, Haley and the other coaches made to the offense to streamline it for Big Ben and the rest of the offense. In so doing, he feels "really good" about where they are as a team and predicts good things for this offense.

"This offense is a new toy," Big Ben said. "I can't wait to see what's coming out of this thing." - http://tinyurl.com/mpdyb7p

"New toy" is different from the "dink and dunk" moniker he used last season, but it's said with the same admiration. When explaining his comments last season, Big Ben said that it "wasn't meant in a negative way" at all." That dinking and dunking the ball up the field is "moving the chains, and it will open up big plays. The {New England} Patriots dink and dunk too."

In order for that to be an apt comparison, though, the Steelers must either run the ball better or incorporate more splash plays also. Both would be nice.

The first of those was addressed at the NFL Draft with the selecting of running back Le'Veon Bell, which was juxtaposed with the attempted trade of Jonathan Dwyer. The starting job was veritably handed to Bell, or so we thought. Dwyer has something to say about it, saying that he aims to win the job.

“I want to prove to people that I can be one of the best,” Dwyer told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.

As the photo of the tweet shows, he lost 25-30 pounds by watching his diet and working hard. He said he feels like he has more energy, and that he’s more explosive and quicker in Training Camp.

It's a good problem to have, such healthy competition in Camp, because the better the running game, the better the team record. It aids the splash plays too, because as If It Ain't Steel brought out in March, Big Ben's passing statistics when going deep declined as the rushing averages dropped. His numbers in 2012 for passes 21 yards and longer were 8-37 (21.6%) for 317 yards, down from 16-55 (29.1%) for 530 yards.

Comparatively, the Steelers' average per carry dropped from 4.4 yards in 2011 to 3.7 in 2012, the fourth-lowest average since the NFL merger, and they also fell from 14th in rushing in 2011 to 26th last season.

Big Ben himself is 40-12 when the Steelers rush for 4.5 or more yards per carry in a game - a 77% win percentage. When they rush for 4.0 YPC or more in a game, Big Ben and the Steelers are 55-15 - winning at a 79% clip.

So getting Big Ben a running game is very important. Just as important, though, is keeping his uniform clean. Take the numbers presented above and factor in sack numbers and the results are better still.

When he is sacked three or fewer times and the average YPC is at least 3.6, the Steelers are 54-9 - an 86% winning percentage - in games Big Ben started.

Bottom line: get Big Ben a running game and keep him upright. Especially with him readily offering up how good he feels since his knee surgery, make it a team effort and priority.

"I hate missing games," quipped Big Ben. "I probably could have and should have missed more games throughout my career. We play a very violent sport. Knock on wood, I feel I've been lucky to not have a, quote, 'real serious injury.'" - http://tinyurl.com/mjwup53

If he truly wants "to pass Terry Bradshaw by getting more Super Bowl wins" then he must be resolved from the beginning and must not be perplexed, because he will still get the same soaking whether he gets those rings or not.

"I hope everybody out there in the real world has questions all year for us, because we'll get answers."

Especially with thunder and lightning interrupting the first practice of Training Camp, it sounds as if he is ready to weather yet another storm.


TIDBITS: Cornerback Cortez Allen out of Steelers practice again with knee injury.

Cornerback Terry Hawthorne was seen favoring his knee after being a gunner on special teams.

Nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu is on the active Physically Unable to Perform list with hamstring injury. Should be back soon.

Coach Tomlin says not to read too much into running back Le'Veon Bell finishing 1st pads practice with the starters.