Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Sets Expectations for Life After Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Ben Roethlisberger with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

As every Pittsburgh Steelers fan knows, Ben Roethlisberger has been the team’s starting quarterback for all of Mike Tomlin’s head coaching career, which began 15 years ago — in 2007. But with Roethlisberger having played his last NFL game, Tomlin is going to have a new starter going forward, whether it’s free agent acquisition Mitch Trubisky, 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett, or perhaps even veteran backup Mason Rudolph.

During a recent episode of The Pivot podcast, former Steelers safety Ryan Clark asked Tomlin what it was like coaching ‘7,’ and how he is approaching a future without Roethlisberger under center?

“I’ve enjoyed that comfort, we’ve all enjoyed that comfort. I’m excited about being uncomfortable,” said Tomlin, saying he expects the days and months ahead to be “scary, but exciting,” emotions that he will share with most Steelers fans.

“When you watch somebody do something at a certain level for so long, it messes up your perception of what is regular and what’s not. The dude’s arm talent was so special for so long that when you see special stuff every day, you get used to it,” admitted Tomlin, before looking ahead to the 2022 season.

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Mike Tomlin: ‘There Better Be a Redistribution of the Playmaking’

“Yeah, we might not have the type of quarterback play that we’ve had. We may not have the special talent that we’ve had, but we’ve got capable dudes and we’ve got a team,” he emphasized. “We’re also not allocating the damn money that we’ve allocated at the position in the past, so there’s a redistribution of the money. So there better be a redistribution of the playmaking.”

In other words, the Steelers are going to continue to need a lot from reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt and first-team All-Pro Cameron Heyward, not to mention more from free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who signed a four-year, $72.98 million contract extension on June 15, 2022.

As for the quarterbacking: “It doesn’t matter who puts their hands underneath the center, as far as I’m concerned,” said Tomlin. “I’m looking forward to the anxiety associated with that uncertainty — with having to stand and deliver and live out what we believe in. The standard is the standard,” he concluded, not needing to say anything further, having already explained why he invents Tomlinsims.

Of course, replacing Roethlisberger will be easier said than done. To date, Tomlin has compiled a regular-season career record of 154-85-2 (.643). Roethlisberger is responsible for 136 of those wins, winning at least 7 starts in all but one of the 15 seasons in which he played under Tomlin, the exception being 2019, when Big Ben started just two games before suffering a season-ending elbow injury.

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Vote for T.J. Watt for ‘Best NFL Player’

Meanwhile, aforementioned Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt has been nominated for ESPYS 2022 Best NFL Player, going against: Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, MVP of Super Bowl LVI; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the 2021 league MVP; and Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, who led the league in rushing yards and rushing TDs in 2021.

You can vote for Watt below:

The ESPYS will air on ABC on July 20 at 8 p.m. ET.

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