(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Image)
Earlier this month when Ben Roethlisberger spoke with the media at OTAs, he mentioned that he's approaching the 2021 season like it's his last year. However, he looks at every season that way.
"I think that's the approach you have to take, and you don't approach it that way because it could be your last, but you approach it because every single play in the game of football could be your last," Roethlisberger said. "Every game could be your last game. That just means I'm going out to give it everything I have. I've never looked toward the future. I've always looked toward the right here and now. That's what's important for me for this season is giving everything I have right here and right now for this group of guys."
Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher was on First Take recently and was asked whether he thinks this will be Roethlisberger's final year.
"It probably will be, I would think so," Cowher said. "And I think he lives by that. He is taking it one year at a time. And I certainly would think this would be. You know, he wanted to come back, it didn't end the way he wanted it to. I think he missed it two seasons ago, a whole season. And I think he realized at that time how much football meant to him, and I think he has applied himself differently and looked at things differently, not taking anything for granted. Yeah, I do believe this will be his last year and I think what they've tried to do is bring everyone back. They brought JuJu (Smith-Schuster) back, tried to re-sign a lot of the players. So, I think this will be his swan song right here."
If this is Roethlisberger's last ride, the offensive line will play a critical role in how successful it is, according to Cowher.
"I go back to the same thing, it comes down to that offensive line," Cowher said when asked how good he thinks the Steelers will be in 2021. "They lost Maurkice Pouncey and that was a big part of what they wanted to do. Alejandro Villanueva left and went to the Baltimore Ravens, the left tackle. So, there's some new people coming in right there and that offensive line needs to gel. And I go back to the same thing, Najee Harris can catch the ball out of the backfield, but you bring him in there to build an offense around running the football, that will take the pressure off the quarterback, the play-action game goes (and) as you pointed out, the group of receivers they have. And defensively getting Devin Bush back, that is a good defense. So, again, if they can stay healthy, the offensive line can play well, they will be in the hunt."