Monday, December 17, 2012
Big Ben sounds unhappy with Haley's calls
By Jamison Hensley
After throwing the game-changing interception in the 27-24 overtime loss in Dallas, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger accepted responsibility for the team's fourth loss in five games. "Absolutely, 100 percent, this is on me," he said.
Well, if you listen to Roethlisberger's comments that followed, he doesn't think he's totally at fault. He hinted that some of the blame should fall on offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Roethlisberger was asked why tight end Heath Miller didn't have one pass thrown his way in the second half after catching six passes for 85 yards and one touchdown in the first half. “I just don‘t think we called the right plays to get him the ball," Roethlisberger said.
He then received a question about the lack of the no-huddle. After pausing for a few seconds, Roethlisberger said, "That‘s tough for me to answer right now. In the second half, we really didn‘t do much of it and that‘s disappointing.”
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Dejan Kovacevic called this "a 100-percent legitimate, non-manufactured quarterback vs. coordinator controversy."
I wouldn't go that far. I wouldn't call this a controversy or a feud yet. These comments are candid but not overly critical. He questions the play calling but doesn't really call out Haley. Roethlisberger clearly sounds unhappy, and it's true he never made the same type of remarks about his friend Bruce Arians. (Side note: Arians has the Colts sitting two games ahead of Pittsburgh and the Indianapolis offense ranked in the top 10.) But Roethlisberger should be unhappy. The Steelers are 7-7 and out of the playoffs if the regular season ended today.
Now, you might be wondering why Roethlisberger is questioning the play calling after he threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns. That's because Roethlisberger looked like the old Roethlisberger in Dallas. He was escaping pressure and spinning away from rushers before chucking the ball deep downfield. That's what happened when he hit Miller for a 30-yard touchdown at the end of the first half.
What Roethlisberger and the Steelers really need to ask themselves is whether they can get back on track. Despite all of the struggles lately, Pittsburgh can still make the playoffs by winning its final two games -- home games against the Bengals and Browns. This won't happen if the disconnect between Roethlisberger and Haley becomes a bigger issue.