Roethlisberger injury the latest in Steelers’ descent; quarterback issues plaguing numerous NFL teams

Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's season-ending elbow injury, suffered on Sept. 15, against the Seattle Seahawks, is a major blow to the team's playoff hopes.

Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's season-ending elbow injury, suffered on Sept. 15, against the Seattle Seahawks, is a major blow to the team's playoff hopes.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have just lost arguably the best offensive trio in the league in just two seasons. Running back Le‘Veon Bell sat out the entire 2018 season due to contract issues, wide receiver Antonio Brown (who has had his own issues since) requested a trade from the team after issues with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger arose, and Roethlisberger just suffered a season ending elbow injury during the Steelers’ week two matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. With these three no longer on the field for the Black and Yellow, the Steelers have gone from a consistent Super Bowl contender to the top of the draft board. 

After a 0-2 start to the regular season, the Steelers are looking for a spark. The Brown-Bell duo replacements Juju Smith-Schuster (11 receptions for 162 yards and zero touchdowns) and James Conner (21 carries for 54 yards and one touchdown) have not come close to living up to expectations two games into the season. Additionally, the biggest offseason move for Pittsburgh offensively was the signing of wide receiver Donte Moncreif. He has looked terrible to start the season with just three catches for seven yards.

 Furthermore, the team ranks in the bottom-four in the league in points scored, yards gained, points allowed, and yards given up. This is a totally different look from just two seasons ago, the last season Bell and Brown were on the roster. The team ranked top-five in total yards gained, points allowed, and yards given up, as well as eighth in total points.

 In response, the front-office is starting to look to the future. They made a big move in trading their 2020 first round pick for former Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Alabama product had a good rookie season, but it was nothing special. However, Fitzpatrick has the potential to be a star. Despite this, the move is quite puzzling as, for the second straight year, the Steelers are passing up on a possible franchise quarterback with their first rounder.

 With Mason Rudolph now the starting quarterback, no one is sure what to expect from the Pittsburgh offense. Rudolph is in his rookie season, and threw 12 completions for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the game in which he took over for the injured Roethlisberger. However, he was a third round pick from Oklahoma State, who’s next best NFL quarterback is Brandon Weeden. 

And it’s not just the Steelers dealing with quarterback issues only two games in the season. In addition to Roethlisberger, The New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees injured his thumb, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Nick Foles broke his collarbone, The Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck retired, the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton injured his foot, and the New York Jets’ Sam Darnold is out with mononucleosis. Even Eli Manning, who has been the starting quarterback for the New York Giants since 2004, will be benched this week in favor of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.

These injuries have opened the door for younger quarterbacks including Rudolph, the Saints’ Teddy Bridgewater, the Colts’ Jacoby Brissett, and the Jaguars’ Gardner Minshew II, leading to a sort of a passing of the torch from the older, game-managing quarterbacks to younger slingers at the position. 

It’s only a matter of time before the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady and the Green Bay Packers’  Aaron Rodgers need to call it a career and the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes becomes the unquestionable “best quarterback in the league.”