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With Ben Roethlisberger Gone, The Steelers Can Find their Old Identity Back

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

In the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night 42-21 wild card loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, one thing is apparent. The Steelers are not close to Super Bowl contenders.

The playoffs are a time where the cream rises to the top, it is also where the horse crap does too. Guess which category the Steelers fall into. The Steelers' defense played their best quarter and a half of the season in the first half on Sunday. A tipped pass by the should be Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt that was intercepted by of all people Devin Bush. They had a scoop and score by Watt caused by a hit by Cameron Heyward. All that occurred and they were down by two touchdowns, why because they do not have the talent to compete against the big dogs in the AFC.

After Sunday night's waxing at the hands of the Chiefs, they close the season with a 9-8-1 record with a point differential of negative 76 for the 2021 season. It looks good on paper that they made the postseason this year, what was the benefit? They have no clear successor to Ben at quarterback, a defense that has three players that you can rely upon consistently, pieces too young in some spots and not good enough at others spots. Ditto with the offensive line. They're receiver core although talented players across the board, they all for one reason or another has focus issues whether it be concentration lapses on the field (Dionte Johnson drops or not tracking the ball well enough), or off the field (JuJu and Claypool interested in building their brands and allegedly frequenting South Side bar scene during the week).

But the biggest problem with the Steelers culture over the past two years has been Ben Roethlisberger. Ben has been the Steelers' number one problem for years. He has had a falling out with coordinators, he had a falling out with Antonio Brown, and he didn’t support Le’Veon Bell in his contract negotiations. He has held this franchise back for the past five seasons with his threatening to retire following the 2016 AFC Championship game, his repeatedly throwing receivers under the bus, and not taking a pay cut sooner to help the team's cap situation.

I thought they should have cut ties with Been three years ago when they traded Brown and let Bell go in free agency. I know it is hard to get rid of a legend, but the Steelers were a franchise and a culture that got infested with cancer and long ago when names like James Farrior, Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel, and Aaron Smith departed and it became Ben’s team, the culture of toughness, blue-collar and intimidating mystique has dissipated.

Rather it was Ben’s direct influence or not, the diva-like behavior of players that came in the locker room, the inopportune trash-talking of opponents, the outdated arrogance to suggest that the Pittsburgh Steelers were the Pittsburgh Steelers is Ben’s fault for being a diva himself.

This locker room mentality is the reason why opponents go into Heinz Field and are no longer intimidated when the Steelers come out of the tunnel. They do not have that fear factor when Renegade comes on in the fourth quarter when they need a play. This culture needs to get back to the way it needs to be for the Steelers to prosper post-Roethlisberger.

All in all, I will miss Ben Roethlisberger the player and the talent. He will go down in the Steelers Mt. Rushmore, but he hurt this organization more than he helped it during his final few seasons and I hope Ben the best in his next chapter in his life.

Twitter: @bwalkerdadon


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