Pittsburgh Steelers True or False: June Edition

Pittsburgh Steelers True or False: June Edition

by June 18, 2021 2 comments

Ben Roethlisberger looks set for a new lease of life in 2021. The Pittsburgh Steelers and offensive coordinator Matt Canada are turning the keys of the kingdom over to the franchise quarterback. It means Big Ben will have all he needs to make a final run at one more Lombardi Trophy. The future of the Steelers’ quarterback position after 39-year-old Roethlisberger calls it a career is uncertain though. Whether or not Washington Football Team castoff Dwayne Haskins can be the future is one of the questions facing this franchise during June.

Will a Different Offense Give Ben Roethlisberger a New Lease of Life?

True. Teaching an old dog new tricks is top of the Steelers’ to-do list during minicamp. The focus will be getting Roethlisberger up to speed in Canada’s system. Speed is the key concept when considering the new scheme, a playbook loaded with pre-snap motions, shifting personnel, and misdirection. Roethlisberger won’t be in shotgun anywhere near as often because the idea is to disguise intent. He’ll be expected to make quicker reads and throws off of play-action.

Roethlisberger should embrace a system that will make better use of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Eric Ebron, and Chase Claypool. Things will be different, but the learning curve may not be too steep since Canada sounds willing to give Roethlisberger full control on Sundays:

We’re going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it. There are changes with terminology and how we’re calling things, which has been an adjustment for Ben. He’s been great learning it and he’s adapted easily like we all knew he would. That is our job. Matchups are how you win football games. That starts with the quarterback.

As long as he doesn’t fight the changes too hard, Roethlisberger will enjoy a special season.

Is Dwayne Haskins the Future of the Steelers’ Quarterback Room?

False. There’s no shortage of people in Pittsburgh ready to give Haskins the benefit of the doubt for the way things went sour in Washington. Among them, quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan has been impressed by Haskins’ raw physical tools, particularly his throwing “velocity” and “good arm talent.”

Physical aptitude is how Haskins tempted Dan Snyder and Washington to draft him 17th overall in 2019. Can the same skills convince the Steelers Haskins is the future? It’s easy to have doubts. Not least because the main weaknesses of Haskins’ game aren’t physical. Instead, those weaknesses concern the hidden intangibles all great pro quarterbacks need to master. Things like reading pressure, coverage, and adjustments. Like making the right decisions with the ball and doing what the game demands. In other words, the mental aspects of football, aspects Haskins didn’t appear mature enough to grasp during his first two years in the NFL.

Do the Steelers Need Another Edge Rusher?

True. Bud Dupree‘s no longer in town, but the edges of the Steelers front seven are set thanks to T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. They can both put heat on the passer, but this defense would look a lot better with a third proven pass-rusher for coordinator Keith Butler to move around and create mismatches. Butler is at least aware of the problem but is so far counting on former Seattle Seahawks castoff Cassius Marsh to be the third man.

Marsh has some skills off the edge, but he’s also played for seven teams in six years, including the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. It’s a tall order to expect this classic journeyman to ease the burden on Watt and Highsmith. The same is true of 2021 sixth-round pick, Quincy Roche.

Butler would no doubt be happier if the Steelers raided what’s left off the free agent market. Fortunately, there are still a few capable pass-rushers available, including Justin Houston and Melvin Ingram. Handing a bloated, one-year deal to a veteran isn’t the Steelers style, but making an exception at edge rusher could be the difference between this defense being one of the league’s best or middle of the pack.

Will the Steelers Extend T.J. Watt Before the Season?

True. Watt doesn’t want to discuss his next contract, but the signs are positive he’ll agree to an extension with the Steelers before the season. The Steelers have already picked up Watt’s fifth-year option but a more concrete show of faith is surely due to a player who has amassed 49.5 sacks in just four seasons. Watt’s prepared to wait, but his presence at minicamp shows he has some confidence the franchise will do right by him eventually. The smart play would be for the Steelers to secure the future of one of the cornerstones of the team before 2022.

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