The Pittsburgh Steelers‘ 2023 season has led many to question what is really going on inside the building.
While they are 7-6 and in the AFC playoff race, fans have become perplexed by their team’s performance each week, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
It has gotten to the point where Steelers great Ben Roethlisberger is questioning whether the team’s storied tradition has faded away.
While talking on his “Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger” podcast, the two-time Super Bowl champion was blunt in his assessment of the team’s culture.
“Maybe the tradition of the Pittsburgh Steelers is done,” he said. “Maybe it needs to be formed a new kind of way.
“Feels like the Steeler way is not – you got some great leaders on defense. Don’t get me wrong. Cam, T.J., and Minkah. But there’s two sides of a football.”
The gripe everyone who follows the Steelers seems to have is with the offense’s performance every week. It is warranted when Pittsburgh is 27th in points scored and yards averaged per game this season. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was fired mid-season because of how poorly Kenny Pickett and his offense were playing.
So, as Roethlisberger explained Steelers tradition, his finger was not being pointed at the defense. Players like Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick embody the “Steeler Way” in his eyes, and the Steelers have been winning games because of their defensive performance. They are seven-best in points allowed per game this season (19.2).
“You have it on defense, don’t get me wrong,” Roethlisberger explained. “You don’t have it on offense right now, and it’s just making it really hard. You’re not seeing, in my opinion, the toughness on offense. I say toughness in the sense of a Steeler toughness. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong like, ‘This guy’s soft.’ Who’s grabbing someone by the facemask and being like, ‘What are you doing? This is not what we do.’ Is that happening?
“You need someone to stand up in that room on offense and be like, ‘No, this isn’t what it means to wear the black and gold. This isn’t what’s been handed down from those teams in the ‘70s.’ The Steel Curtain, the four Super Bowls, the Nolls, the Bradshaws, all those people. It’s unbelievable.”
Roethlisberger added that he was the “last guard” when he retired after the 2021 season, referring to players like Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis and many others that helped Pittsburgh win Super Bowls since he was on the team that left the game prior.
He said that things like playing music in the locker room was an unwritten rule because late owner Dan Rooney was not a fan of it. Roethlisberger did not like it when players would play music, and though he knew it did not have an effect on winning or losing, it was just all he knew from the previous generation of Steelers.
However, on the field, Roethlisberger does not feel the black and gold has that same effect on their opponents anymore.
“When we showed up, we were up three or seven nothing no matter who we were playing,” Roethlisberger said. “The second we got off the bus, three nothing or seven nothing us. Because people were intimidated by our defense, people were intimated at times by how good our offense could be. I feel like some of that is lost.
“People aren’t afraid to play the Pittsburgh Steelers anymore for whatever that is.”
The Steelers have four games left in the regular season to make teams afraid, as they aim to clinch a playoff berth. Mitch Trubisky will have to quarterback the team for now on offense, with Pickett dealing with recovery following ankle surgery.