Kovacevic: Get over it, Ben
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Ben Roethlisberger's disposition seemed as sunny as the skies over the Steelers' South Side fields Tuesday morning. It was the opening of organized team activities, and he looked as loose and lively in drills - "I've lost a few pounds," he explained - as he did in animatedly engaging his teammates.
Big Ben, bundle of joy.
Right up until someone brought up the playbook.
And even then, through media questioning of how the franchise quarterback is handling new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's wholly new playbook, Roethlisberger at least went with a grin-and-bear-it approach.
I asked if he and Haley are on the same page yet.
"Well, that's the goal," Roethlisberger replied with a broad smile. "I'm going to put in extra work to learn his offense and try to get there."
Does he like what he's seen of the plays so far?
"Yeah, sure," he came back, this time with a slight shrug. "It's kind of early to see too much."
How about this OTA opener?
"It was frustrating. It gets frustrating at times. But we'll keep learning."
Roethlisberger's still smiling all this time, by the way.
Will it be hard to stay in the pocket, as Mike Tomlin and the coaches are urging him?
"Sure, yeah, I mean, whatever. I'm supposed to get rid of the ball, stay in the pocket, not take hits ... so, I guess I better learn where the protections are coming from so I don't get hit."
There was a lot more of this, too. And with each passing answer, it became that much more transparent that Roethlisberger has a long way to go to accept how the Steelers treated him this offseason.
I don't blame him.
First, team president Art Rooney publicly stated that Roethlisberger needed to "tweak" his game, meaning to scramble a lot less and stay healthy.
Think Robert Kraft suggests positional philosophy to Tom Brady?
Next, Rooney and Tomlin fired Bruce Arians, Roethlisberger's offensive coordinator of five years, and stunned pretty much everyone. Including Roethlisberger.
Think the Packers pull that with Aaron Rodgers?
Finally, Tomlin hired Haley, also without Roethlisberger's input, and is implementing a brand new offense.
Think Peyton Manning didn't pack his own playbook when he flew off to Denver?
In modern professional sports, the franchise players do have some say. We don't have to like it. The Steelers don't have to like it. But it's the way things work now, with all the money and leverage elite athletes have.
Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl champion, has achieved far too much in Pittsburgh to have been toyed with this way. He has every right to feel disillusioned by how this winter played out.
But he also needs to get over it. Like today.
A week ago, Roethlisberger was asked in a radio interview if the new offense might offer a chance to refresh or refocus. Roethlisberger's response: "Uhhhh ... I think Coach really wants to challenge us. Me, maybe, in particular. I think he felt like I was real comfortable with the old offense, which ... I don't know why that's a bad thing. But I'm not the head coach."
No, Roethlisberger is not. Moreover, he's not about to undo any of this, either with comments like that or even by quietly taking the field with a chip on the shoulder. Tomlin isn't about to cede control to his players. Arians isn't coming back. Haley isn't rewriting his playbook.
Time to cope.
Besides, by all accounts, including that of Roethlisberger himself yesterday, the hardest part of adjusting to Haley's playbook hasn't been the offense. It's been language.
"I don't think it's going to look all that different once we're doing it," Roethlisberger said. "It's just a matter of getting used to the terminology."
Again, time to cope.
Roethlisberger's teammates sound confident he'll do exactly that.
"From a quarterback's perspective, it's tough changing offenses," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "I saw Brett Favre go through it when he got to the Jets. He'd been doing one thing his entire career, and what we were doing, the terminology, it was like a foreign language to him."
That was with Favre arriving late in training camp of 2008.
"It's always easier for a coordinator to just come in and implement their own stuff," Cotchery continued. "I understand it. We all understand it. We just have to embrace the change."
In closing my interview with Roethlisberger, I couldn't help but ask if he'd lost weight primarily to show the Steelers he can still scramble.
"Nope," he replied. "Just trying to stay healthy. I'm getting old."
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Poor @Paul! You obviously failed to do your due diligence before you chose to live in the heartland of Steeler Nation. I hope you are smart enough to refrain from publicly voicing such heresy. I might become painful. As to your two questions: No and Absolutely NOT! Have a wonderful day in the neighborhood!
Submitted by: paul on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Have you considered moving back to Baltimore??
Submitted by: Susan on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Paul----It's not just Pittsburgh, try living in Philadelphia. The Flyers were in the playoffs and all they talked about was the Eagles. Philadelphia has the obsession with football also so I'm guessing that most NFL cities are the same. Don't hate on Pittsburgh, I wish I still lived there!
Submitted by: Judy on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Roethlisberger has been a pain in the azz since almost the beginning. Lots of attitude, little brains. They should have kicked him to the curb a few years back when he was in all the media for less than stellar actions...........
Submitted by: michael on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
This should be better titled: "Get over it, Media Hounds". As hard as the media has tried to get Ben to blow up, he hasn't and it appears everyone in the media is annoyed by that so out comes weak articles like this. Ben showed loyalty to his OC when he was fired and not sure where that is a problem. By league rules he wasn't allowed to talk football with his new OC about football, but eventually they did talk and Ben said he was looking forward to moving on and meeting with Haley and learning the new offense. Yeah that really sounds like he's not over something. He states the obvious and says he'll be ready so where is the problem other than the media trying to find a problem. Ben's a consummate pro, he backs his coaches, his teammates, the ownership, plays hurt and thanks the fans, couldn't ask for more from him.
Submitted by: Paul on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I'm going to start my own list of reasons to hate living in Pittsburgh: number one on the list, it's May, Major League Baseball season is just under way and I still can't pick up a newspaper, turn on a radio or watch a TV news broadcast without hearing more nonsense about the Steelers. I used to like football, but this city's 24/7 365 sick obsession with these overpaid, roid-raging thugs invades, no infects and corrupts, every minute of everyday around here to the point I can't stand seeing or hearing a single word out of the mouths of this POS and his criminally inclined co-conspirators and has made following the NFL utterly intolerable. Please, can we just have a few months from the week after the Super Bowl until the start of training camp without having to endure the pain of this slack-jawed moron's voice or some sputtering idiot DJ's idiotic opinions on the team? Please?
Submitted by: Dejan on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
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