Q&A: Ben Roethlisberger

The Steelers' offense is sputtering but Ben Roethlisberger is stepping forward as a leader, in deed and by word. Read here:

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: You talked about the veterans having a meeting. Can you give us the message of what you guys are going to try to get across?

BR: It's not like it's a magic solution and we're going to have a talk and meeting and everything's going to be fixed. It's more just about getting together and coming up with solutions and things that we can bring to the team, because we feel that's the thing we should do as leaders.

Q: Did you do it yet? Or is it on the agenda?

BR: It's going to happen here in the next few minutes.

Q: Is 0-2 a bigger deal because of what needs to be said? Or did it happen because of the way you guys played?

BR: I think it's more of an execution thing. I think everyone's got the attitude and the mindset and the mentality that we need to get it done. I just don't think we got it done, especially offensively. Whether it's guys just not doing their job, turning the ball over. You can look at a lot of different things and point to a lot of different issues, so we just need to get those things fixed. It's early in the season and we need to get it turned around quick.

Q: When you call a meeting like this, is it calming down? Getting expectations up?

BR: I think everyone's looking into it way more than it is. The older guys, we've met three or four times now. We did it during OTAs, we did it during minicamp, we did it during training camp. We said we wanted to meet periodically just to talk about the state of the team and where we were, things that we need to do as leaders and older guys on this team. I just think now's a good time to get it together. It's not a panic-type thing, it's just a good time for us to get together to talk.

Q: If Heath Miller were to come back this week, how much would it mean to you and this team?

BR: Well he's the best tight end in the game, so it would mean a lot. He's a leader and a guy that we all depend on in both the run and pass game, so we hope that he is able to come back.

Q: Do some of your wide receivers need to show more preciseness and toughness in their route running? At times there seems to be some disconnect.

BR: There is a little bit. They're not the biggest guys in the world so it's easy for defensive backs to hold them and push them and arm-bar them, and they're not getting calls. So it's tough. They just need to keep fighting through those things. I know they'll do that. They take pride in their work and they work hard at it. We're going to spend some extra time today making sure we can work through those issues.

Q: Is it a challenge with Chicago's corners?

BR: Big corners, physical. It's going to be a big challenge. It's another good defense we play this week. We're going to have to be on our screws and start to work now.

Q: Were the lights an issue in Cincinnati?

BR: Two guys said they couldn't see. They couldn't find the ball.

Q: Do you anticipate an issue here?

BR: I don't. I don't know if it's really ever been an issue before. I don't know if it was the height of the lights. Maybe it wasn't lights. Maybe they didn't pick up on the ball.

Q: Is this a must-win game?

BR: For us everything is must-win. I think a win would solve, or help heal, some wounds we have right now. But it's still early in the season. It's a home game, and we feel like all home games are must-wins.

Q: How often do receivers lobby you for the ball? Or complain when they don't get it?

BR: (Chuckles) All the time, ever since I got here. It's funny because all us quarterbacks talk when we get a chance and we all talk about different receivers and lobbying for balls and how each of them do it. Some do it by gifts and some do it by just talking to you. Everybody, I think they do it all over the league for as long as they've been around, I think.

Q: There was a report today that Antonio Brown and Todd Haley got into it on the sideline the other night. Were you aware of that?

BR: I was not.

Q: Has he approached you at all about being unhappy with his role in the offense?

BR: I haven't even talked to Antonio yet today. We've had a bunch of individual meetings so I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet, so I don't know much about what's going on, or his unhappiness, if there really is a case of that. I'm not sure.

Q: Is that a problem? Or more frustration?

BR: Like I said, I don't even know what exactly happened, if there was an issue. From you saying this to me I would assume it's just frustrations. I don't see it being a bigger problem than that.

Q: What did you learn looking at the Bengals tape?

BR: That we didn't play good enough. Just the same thing I thought after the game. There were things here and there that were good things -- more good things than last week -- but not enough to get it done.

Q: Would you have liked to have seen the aftermath of the David Paulson fumble unfold differently? It looked like you wanted to run a play.

BR: Yeah, I was trying to get up there. ... I saw the referee rule he was down on the ground, so it was a completion ... so I was trying to get up there. I knew we had some personnel issues in the game. Kelvin Beachum was in the game and he would've had to have reported again. So I ran up to him and told him to hurry up and report to the official because I want to hurry up and run a play. By that time we were substituting guys on and then Coach Lewis threw the flag and there was not much we could do about it.

Q: I've seen you wave off a punt or field goal team before on fourth down. Is that in your area to do that? And would you handle it differently if it came up again?

BR: I probably could've made a bigger issue to get everybody off but then if coaches are sending people on and they're not making a big deal about it, then I assume that they know something that I don't know, because we've got coaches up in the box and they have TVs and can see things. ... I took the assumption that they knew something that I didn't.

Q: Your only two touchdown drives this season have been hurry-up with you calling the plays. Is it realistic to do that more often? Or do circumstances in those situations kind of dictate that?

BR: A little bit of both. We need to figure out what's best for this offense, what's our best tempo. There are times to go up-tempo, to go no-huddle, to go at two-minute mode, which is even faster than no-huddle. And there are times to slow it down and substitute and get big personnel in the game. We just have to know when and where those situations are best and go with them.

Q: How much of the playbook is open to you when you're calling plays on the field?

BR: When I'm calling plays the whole no-huddle section of the playbook is available. You just run into issues when you start substituting big packages, when you have three or four tight ends in the game, extra tackles, you're really limited in your no-huddle play-calling.

Q: Does Felix Jones know enough of that package to be effective?

BR: Yeah, absolutely. He did a good job this past week picking up the blitzes. If he has questions he's always quick to ask me, which is what I ask them to do.

Q: Markus Wheaton's locker is next to yours. He's a quiet guy--

BR: He is. I thought he might be sitting in there.

Q: Does he lobby you in any way for the ball?

BR: No.

Q: And what's his learning arc? How's he doing?

BR: He's doing great. He doesn't say much in either way. I have to kind of force things out of him because I'm trying to really develop a relationship with him, both on and off the field, because I think it's important. I think he's a guy we can use as a weapon, smart guy, has a good understanding of the offense, doesn't really make mistakes. If he makes mistakes, it's not really running the wrong route, it's depth here and there, or what we call 'giving too much flavor' at the top of routes, trying to shake too many guys like he's in college. So to me, he's more than ready to get in and start doing stuff for us.

Q: Is it a matter of working him in slowly? Are you surprised he hasn't been used much to this point?

BR: It is two games, and we've kind of been -- the first game we had those packages with Beach, and then we lost a center and all that stuff happened. I thought he would be in a little bit more, but I think you'll start to see him getting in more this week.

Q: How much are you lobbying the higher-ups to open things up and maybe throw more when it's obvious the running game is not working?

BR: I just want to do whatever it takes to win ball games. Whether it's running or throwing, I just want to get us in the best situation, so I go with what our coordinator does. Whatever he calls I'm going to try to run to the best of my ability. I just do what I can to let him know what I see on the field. If I see that certain passes might work, I try and let him know, and really I just put it in his court to call it or not call it.

Q: What's your confidence level that you guys can get this thing turned around?

BR: I'm confident. Like I said, it's early. We all know it's about when you get hot as a team in the season. It's a little early to start talking about getting hot for a playoff run. Two games in. We've got a big one this week at home against a really good team. If we can get this one, than who knows what it would translate into.


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