The Pittsburgh Steelers went 9-6-1 in 2018 and missed out on the play offs. With the 2019 season approaching, many had concerns about the season with the departures of Antonio Brown and Leveon Bell.
Ben Roethlisberger’s two biggest weapons were gone.
Many had hopes that Big Ben would be able to galvanise the team and that he would be the driving force behind any play off push.
Juju Smith Schuster was also expected to become the number one receiver for Big Ben after Brown’s departure.
2019 was a bad year for Roethlisberger
However, in week 2 of the 2019 season against the Seattle Seahawks, Roethlisberger suffered an elbow injury and would not see the field again during the season.
Pittsburgh went 1-4 before ending the season 8-8 and once again missing the play offs.
After making the play offs in twelve of their first eighteen seasons of the 21st century, Pittsburgh have now missed out on the play offs in two consecutive seasons.
Pittsburgh may have finished 8-8 but they were one seeding off making the play offs.
The Steelers would have made the play offs had the new play off format for the 2020 season been in place for the 2019 season.
They have done all of this without their star quarterback and two below average quarterbacks taking his place in Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph. Imagine what they could have done with Roethlisberger.
Juju Smith-Schuster had a down year and didn’t see the ball nearly as much as he would have liked or expected.
Smith-Schuster scored seven touchdowns in both his rookie 2017 season and in the 2018 season as opposed to the three he scored in the 2019 season.
He also recorded just 552 yards in 2019, compared to his 1,426 in 2018 and 917 in 2017. Both of these seasons were whilst a number two receiver.
This goes to show how much Ben Roethlisberger was missed in 2019.
Now that Big Ben is fit and back to full health, head coach Mike Tomlin will be expecting to rely on Roethlisberger to rally the troops. Tomlin will hope to guide Pittsburgh back to the play offs.
The team in the NFL with the joint most Super Bowl’s in history deserves to be in the play offs.
With the New England Patriots now without the greatest of all time in Tom Brady and with seven AFC teams making the play offs as opposed to the six in previous seasons, the play off places are up for grabs at Heinz Field.
The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are both going to improve, but teams such as the aforementioned New England Patriots and also the Houston Texans will be severely hampered by the losses of Brady and Deandre Hopkins respectively.
There is a spot opening up for the Steelers and Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger will hope to capitalise on that.
If they do so then this is why I believe that Roethlisberger is a firm favourite for the ‘Comeback Player of the Year’ award.
An award previously won by Ryan Tannehill, Andrew Luck and Keenan Allen, Roethlisberger will want to put his name back on this list.
If Roethlisberger can guide Pittsburgh back to the play offs with all the injury issues and also the key personnel departures that have taken place, then he would be a worthy winner.
In conclusion, Roethlisberger has all the capabilities of guiding Pittsburgh back to the play offs and if so, as has been said previously, then he is a good candidate as any for the award and also my early tip to win it.