The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is the obvious favorite for a year-end award
For the past calendar year, we’ve seen two quarterbacks in the 2004 NFL Draft class get replaced by their successor.
The New York Giants benched Eli Manning after two games in favor of Daniel Jones, while the Los Angeles Chargers allowed Phillip Rivers to hit the open market and replaced him with Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert. Many expected the Pittsburgh Steelers to follow a similar path in regards to Ben Roethlisberger, especially since he suffered a season-ending elbow injury last year.
The Steelers, however, had absolute faith in their two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback’s rehabilitation. If the front office and coaching staff are correct, Roethlisberger is the sure-fire favorite to win the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Roethlisberger has all the tools to still play at a high level in 2020
The Comeback Player of the Year award honors a player who had an exceptional season following an injury or a down year. When looking at the candidate field, no player has a better chance to win it than Roethlisberger.
Last season, the Steelers were a quarterback away from clinching a postseason berth, but Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges couldn’t get the job done. Who knows how they would’ve done had Roethlisberger’s three flexor tendons not detached in his throwing elbow during the second game of the 2019 campaign.
Many thought that this was the time for the Steelers to address the position, especially with Roethlisberger’s contract ending following the 2021 season, where he’ll be 39-years-old. But, general manager Kevin Colbert shot down rumors of selecting “Big Ben’s” heir apparent prior to this year’s NFL Draft, much to the chagrin of some Steelers fans. But those fans forget just how great Roethlisberger was in his last full season of work.
In 2018, Roethlisberger was one of the more productive quarterbacks in the league not named Patrick Mahomes. Roethlisberger led the league in passing yards (5,129), passing attempts (675), completions (452) and yards per game (320.6). Yes, he did lead the NFL in interceptions (16), but the Steelers finished the campaign with a 9-6-1 record, just narrowly missing out on a playoff berth.
With the 2020 regular season on the horizon, Roethlisberger has a solid supporting cast to work with. JuJu Smith-Schuster will lead the receiving corps consisting of James Washington, Diontae Johnson and rookie Chase Claypool. Plus, he has a solid tight end option for the first time in a long time with Eric Ebron.
Then, he has James Conner, Benny Snell Jr. and Jaylen Samuels to hand the ball off on running plays. Oh, and Roethlisberger can have the comfort of watching Pittsburgh’s dominant defense stifle the opposition.
If Roethlisberger can return to his 2018 form this season, he can expect a trophy to head his way at the NFL’s year-end awards. Don’t count out “Big Ben” just yet because he’s ready to prove the doubters wrong.