Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger wants an answer from Rooney
HONOLULU — Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has questions about the direction of the Steelers' offense, and he plans to seek out team president Art Rooney II when he returns to Pittsburgh after playing in the Pro Bowl on Sunday night.
"When I get back I'm going to go up to Mr. Rooney's office and ask him what he wants from me, what he wants from this offense, because I think that's a viable question for him," Roethlisberger said Thursday in an exclusive interview with the Tribune-Review following a light Pro Bowl practice. "He's our owner and our boss, so I really would like to know kind of what he wants and where he sees our offense going because I'd like to tell him where I see us going."
The offense has become perhaps the biggest question mark in an offseason full of them for the Steelers.
Bruce Arians, who has a close relationship with Roethlisberger, will not return after serving five seasons as the Steelers' offensive coordinator. The Steelers said Arians retired, but Arians said earlier this week that his contract had not been renewed.
Arians was supposed to go to Hawaii as Roethlisberger's guest for the Pro Bowl, but pulled out after everything went down with Steelers.
Rooney, in an interview with Steelers.com, sidestepped a question about the circumstances under which Arians left. Rooney said that moving forward was the most important thing.
The Steelers declined to comment on what Roethlisberger said, the quarterback's first public comments since Arians' departure.
Roethlisberger had lobbied on Arians' behalf after the 2009 season, when the Steelers seriously considered ousting him. He was miffed by the timing of the change now because Roethlisberger said he believes the offense is close to putting it all together.
"We feel like we are really close to being an elite offense," said Roethlisberger, who will play in his second Pro Bowl. "For your leader to be gone is kind of a shocker for us, but you've got to be ready for it, and whatever the Rooneys and coach (Mike) Tomlin decide is our next step. I think the (Steelers') mind was made up, and B.A. was kind of ready to move on as well."
The Steelers finished 12th in the NFL in total offense, averaging 372.3 yards per game this past season. They tied for 21st in scoring (20.3 points per game). Rooney told the Trib last week that the Steelers need to improve in that area.
Rooney also said during a wide-ranging interview that the Steelers need to cut down on sacks and that Roethlisberger needs to "tweak" his game.
"From what I understood from that was, just not get hit to so much," said Roethlisberger, who was sacked 40 times in 15 regular-season games in 2011. "I think some of that's on me; some of that's on linemen. It's on everybody, so I'll put it on me and try to make those adjustments."