For those expecting our regularly featured Sound-Off, unforeseen circumstances have conspired against Hennessy so you get 20% more Chris this week! I also waited and waited before doing this update hoping to hear the results of James Harrison‘s appeal of his unjust one game suspension but the NFL Review Committee moves about as swiftly as the US Congress. What’s interesting about that per the new CBA, all appeals are now handled by a member of the NFLPA (to prevent the previous Pythonesque situation where you appealed to your own executioner). Harrison drew former Chargers, Jets, and Bills defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. So if anybody would understand the difficulties inherent in playing defense, it should be Coach Cottrell.
Stand up for one of your own, Ted.
In the meantime, let’s quickly discuss the Pittsburgh Steelers other ongoing controversy, the condition of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The media is reporting he has not practiced at all this week. That’s normally a bad sign but Ben has made starts without logging any practice time in the past. Normally, Friday is the tell-tale practice day as the guys who are expected to play either go on Friday or they don’t play. However, with the Steelers not playing until Monday night, they may push the schedule ahead a day for the walking wounded.
The Post-Gazette, behind their idiotic pay window you’d have to be pretty desperate to actually pay for, is reporting Ben is getting a brace made for his ankle. No doubt to match the splint he already has for his broken thumb. This reminds me of Star Wars when Luke gets his hand chopped off by his father (and you thought Marv Marinovich was tough on his son) and has it replaced by a robotic prosthesis. As Obi-Wan would later say, “He’s more machine now than man.”
Ben is definitely a machine. An ass-kicking, touchdown throwing, tackler-shrugging machine.
As a contingency plan, Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon have been sharing snaps at quarterback in Ben’s absence. Batch assumes he’ll start if Ben cannot go but, off what I saw last week, I would have a short leash if I were Mike Tomlin. Dix didn’t impress in training camp and was mediocre at best last year during his short audition as starter while Ben was serving his own unjust suspension. However, I’m not sure Batch has the mobility to play the Steelers’ style of offense (ie: run around like a maniac and make plays). Dixon doesn’t have Ben’s passing skill although he definitely has the legs to escape the pressure that will no doubt come bearing down on him thanks to our porous offensive line.
The question I’ve been asking myself all week is, should Ben even bother starting on Monday? Is one game worth him risking further injury? I have no doubt Ben will take the field against the 49ers only because he’s the toughest SOB to ever play quarterback. I just don’t know if the Steelers should let him. While the Steelers could still win the AFC North and a first round bye if the Ravens were to stumble once in their final three games while the Black and Gold wins out, the most important thing is to have Ben reasonably healthy for the playoffs. The Two-Headed Monster of Chazis Baxon should be able to win at least two of the Steelers final three games. I doubt we’ll see that, however, as they continue on their quixotic quest to play out the string with all hands on deck.
Let’s hope Mike Tomlin’s attempt to win the battle doesn’t end up costing the Steelers the war.