Tim Benz: Don’t let Roethlisberger off the hook amid Steelers turmoil
Let’s follow up on what James Jones had to say about Ben Roethlisberger’s role in the drama surrounding Antonio Brown.
— NFL Total Access (@NFLTotalAccess) January 3, 2019
“I have talked to a couple of people in the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, and they told me this has been lingering,” Jones said on NFL Network.
Now, I don’t know who the “people” (plural) are with whom Jones is speaking in the Steelers locker room. But I do know he broke the story of at least one person (singular) who signed with the club via Green Bay this offseason.
So maybe Morgan Burnett is a source. Maybe not. But, um, maybe Morgan Burnett is a source.
Believe Jones’ account of events or don’t. However, that explanation of events makes as much sense as those of us assuming Brown was ticked off about a team MVP announcement that wasn’t made public until the next day.
It also makes sense to examine Roethlisberger’s potential part as to why Brown is so upset.
To be clear, Brown acting like child and going AWOL isn’t Roethlisberger’s fault. It’s not Roethlisberger’s fault that Brown is asking for a trade and refused to show up for work.
Brown is solely responsible for that.
Brown allegedly believes Roethlisberger gets special treatment from the coach. But so does he. Who has been given more slack from Mike Tomlin than Brown?
However, as Jones is stating, Roethlisberger wants us to buy that everything is fine between him and Brown. That’s flimsy.
The belief that Roethlisberger is faultless in impacting Brown’s frustration is also Pollyanna-ish. Brown may be upset that Roethlisberger throws too many picks, rarely practices on Wednesdays, calls him out in meetings, removed himself from blame in the Denver game-ending interception and put it more on Brown.
This falls in line with what Albert Breer was talking about in his recent “Sports Illustrated” post.
Conversely, Roethlisberger is likely justified in his complaints about Brown shaving routes and freelancing patterns.
To Jones’ point, let’s not characterize frustration as a one-way street here. It’s gullible to assume Roethlisberger is nothing but a patient victim, quietly watching A.B.’s antics from a distance.
Further underscoring what Jones had to say, how many headline-worthy Steelers stories have gained legs when Roethlisberger has advanced them on his weekly radio show?
Passive-aggressive takes on Todd Haley’s play-calling. Publicly speculating about his retirement. Second-guessing the drafting of Mason Rudolph. Questioning Tomlin over how hard the Steelers work in practice. Airing out James Washington after the Denver loss.
None of those contributions to “Team Turmoil” came from Brown. That was all Big Ben.
To reiterate, Roethlisberger isn’t to be held accountable for Brown’s selfish behavior. Yet, Jones is right to wonder why a lot of the analysis within the walls of the Southside is often absent of the quarterback’s name. Especially when he is as dominant of a figure as he is in that building.
Roethlisberger likes to portray himself as just a worker-bee cog in the machine and, simultaneously, as a noble team leader.
It can’t be both. If we crush Mike Tomlin for his lack of leadership when it comes to keeping things smooth on the South Side, our critique can’t be absent of scrutiny regarding Roethlisberger either.