Steelers lacking production from their star quarterback

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — Quarterbacks always get too much blame when a team loses.

Not this time.

This one is on Ben Roethlisberger.

He threw five interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, in Sunday’s 30-9 Steelers’ loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that shocked the crowd at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon.

It continued a pattern of subpar quarterback play that’s been on display through the first five games this season.

“Maybe I don’t have it any more,” Roethlisberger said.

It would be premature to make that judgment, but it’s clear Roethlisberger hasn’t been playing very well this season. His timing and accuracy have been off, and the Steelers have suffered because of that.

The interceptions were the obvious problem on Sunday, but look at the Steelers’ point total, too — three field goals. No touchdowns. As bad as things were against the Jaguars, the Steelers still could have outscored Jacksonville. That didn’t happen.

The Steelers came into this season thinking offense would be the least of their problems. Antonio Brown has been fine from the start, his silly outburst last week notwithstanding.

Le’Veon Bell has been slow to recover from his ill-advised training camp holdout.

Martavis Bryant has been a non-factor after losing last season to suspension.

The biggest mystery has been Roethlisberger.

There’s no injury factor at work. At 35, he’s a senior quarterback, but he’s not a Peyton Manning who can barely function. Even though he doesn’t move the way he once did, there’s still mobility.

Sunday’s debacle wasn’t the result of just targeting the wrong color of jersey. Two of the interceptions were tipped. His arm was hit as he released another throw that went errant.

But when a quarterback gives the opposition two touchdowns and doesn’t score any for his team, it’s pretty much a lost cause.

“Not really a lot to talk about,” was the way Mike Tomlin opened his postgame session. True enough. It was obvious what happened. Give the ball away five times, and it’s not going to end well. When one player is responsible for all five turnovers, that speaks for itself.

When Landry Jones is the backup quarterback, there’s not a decision for the coaching staff to make. Roethlisberger is the Steelers’ quarterback. They just need him to be a lot better than he was on Sunday.

The situation becomes more concerning because, as noted, Roethlisberger hasn’t been tearing things up in the other games this season.

Roethlisberger stood and answered questions after the game. None of the replies was very long because, as Tomlin said, there wasn’t a lot of talk about.

The quarterback did admit he was looking forward to joining his family because the presence of three pre-schoolers who don’t care much about football would help him put the game in the past.

And that’s the goal at this point: Put Sunday’s game in the past tense and move on.

“Just bounce back,” Roethlisberger said. “Like I said, doing this long enough, you understand not to panic and not to hit buttons, where it’s like, ‘Oh man, what do I do, change all this and that, go see people?’ You just come out on Wednesday, and be ready to practice.”

First, though, there will be tape review today. Then the Steelers get ready for a formidable test, playing at Kansas City this Sunday night. Tough opponent, tough place to play, tough to avoid coming out of that game with a 3-3 record.

What do the Steelers need more than anything?

They need Ben to be big again.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.

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