Ben Roethlisberger has had a very storied career. He has passed for over 25,000 yards, thrown 165 touchdowns, to along with 2 Super Bowl victories and 3 appearances in the “big-one”. You can argue he has enough credentials to get in the NFL Hall of Fame if he retired tomorrow. He has achieved many single-season accolades, passing for 400 yards, throwing 32 touchdowns in one season. All this is great, but this year he’s going to have the best year of his career.
The Pittsburgh Steelers started off the offseason with an excellent move, they fired longtime offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and replaced him with Todd Haley. Don’t get me wrong, Bruce Arians is a good offense coordinator, but the Steelers’ offense was up-and-down throughout the season and lacked identity. You can argue whether Todd Haley was a good head coach, but there is no denying how good have an offensive coordinator he is. He helped engineer the explosive Cardinals passing attack in 2008, and was a highly regarded Wide Receivers’ coach before that.
Haley will install a Zone/Drive-blocking running scheme that will open-up huge holes for the Steelers Running Backs. Whether it’s Isaac Redman or Rashard Mendenhall, the Steelers will have a very solid running game for “Big Ben” to lean on. This will allow the offense to run a lot of play action, opening-up big plays down the field. They couldn’t run a lot of play action last season because their running game was very inconsistent. Haley’s blocking-scheme allows any running back to come in and have success, this a win-win situation for everyone on the offense. His passing attack will feature big plays, but he like to lull the defense with short and intermediate passes. You will see the Wide Receivers run a lot of double-moves.
The second best move for the Steelers this offseason was drafting David DeCastro and Mike Adams in the first and second rounds of the draft. Ben Roethlisberger has never had an above average O-line during his whole career, this year it looks like that may change. David DeCastro was one of the best Guard prospects of the last 5 years. He is very intelligent and has a nasty disposition. He thrives in run-blocking, but is more than capable in pass-blocking. DeCastro has no holes in his game. He’s a day 1 starter that immediately improves the O-line. Mike Adams was once considered a top-20 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he slipped due to testing positive for marijuana at the combine. Mike Adams isn’t as complete at this point as David Castro. He is raw and will have to be coached-up, but the talent is there. At 6’7′ 323lb’s he has prototypical size for a Left Tackle. to go along with good athleticism. The key for Mike Adams will be improving his technique. He was able to embarrass fellow rookies at the Senior Bowl due to his size and athleticism, but playing against guys like Trent Cole and Demercus Ware requires technique. Adams may have struggles early on, but by midseason he will prove to be an upgrade over Max Starks. Adding Decastro and Adams to the fold with Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert really helps Big Ben.
Hines Ward may have been released, but the Big Ben will have the best receiving corps he’s had inhis whole career. Mike Wallace is holding-out right now, but I don’t expect his holdout to stretch into training camp (just a gut feeling). This speedy group of receivers causes issue’s for opposing defenses. Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, and Mike Wallace are excellent at catching the deep ball, but can work the middle of the field well. Having these guys is a real advantage for a strong-armed QB like Ben Roethlisberger. Todd Haley will know how to use these guys to create constant mismatches.
I have high hopes for Big Ben’s 2012-2013 season. I believe the Pittsburgh Steelers will go 11-5, losing in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. I believe Ben Roethlisberger will throw for 4,256 yards, 37 Touchdowns, 16 Interceptions, with a %64 completion percentage. All of this will conclude with Ben Roethlisberger winning the NFL league MVP award.