In the wake of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 41-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on November 28, a familiar refrain has re-emerged in sports talk media. That is, Ben Roethlisberger is old and washed up, and it’s “not gonna get better.”
On the November 29, 2021 edition of ESPN’s First Take, both Stephen A. Smith and former Steelers safety Ryan Clark were in agreement that it’s time for the longtime Steelers quarterback to step aside for the good of the organization that employs him.
“He’s gotta care enough to say, ‘I don’t have it no more,’” said Smith about the 39-year-old Roethlisberger, who has been Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback since 2004.
That needs to happen “immediately,” echoed Clark. “Ben Roethlisberger needs to walk into Mike Tomlin’s office and say, ‘Coach, it’s OK if you sit me,’” noting that it would be difficult for Tomlin to make that decision on his own “because (the Steelers) allowed Ben to come back,” he said.
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Stephen A. Smith: ‘It All Starts With Ben’
For his part, Stephen A. Smith puts a disproportionate amount of the blame for Pittsburgh’s ongoing struggles on Roethlisberger.
“To me personally, it all starts with Ben, and here’s why. As bad as that defense is right now, you’re unenthused, because you know you’ve got to carry a heavier load than most defenses have to carry every week because your offense isn’t going to do anything,” opined Smith.
The solution is to switch to a young, mobile quarterback, he says, admitting that is easier said than done.
“If you fix your offensive line and get a mobile quarterback who can throw the football … you change this around, because the defense is more inspired and they come out there knowing that they can afford to take chances and they don’t have to play safe because my goodness (they) don’t have any help.”
Smith: I’m Done With Mason Rudolph Too’
In the near term, Smith hopes the Steelers have the opportunity to “try Haskins,” referring to former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, who the Steelers signed to a one-year Reserve/Future contract in January 2021.
One thing he doesn’t want to see is more of Steelers backup quarterback Mason Rudolph, a former third-round pick (2018) who has a 5-4-1 record as a starter.
“I’m done with him too,” exclaimed Smith, who argues that the Steelers should “risk it all” during this coming offseason by trying to acquire a veteran quarterback like Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson.
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Stephen A. Smith Promises to Walk Away When ‘It’s Time’
As an aside, it’s perhaps worth remembering that on this day—November 29, 2021—Stephen A. Smith promised that he will know when it’s time to step aside at his job and let his successors continue on without him.
“There comes a point in time, when your time is up,” he said. “I enjoy doing First Take…. One day, it’s gonna be y’all. It’s gonna be time for Stephen A. to go. You know what I’m going to do, I’m gonna shake hands and I’m going to give everybody a hug and I’m gonna bounce, because it’s my time.”
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