Monday, February 26, 2007

Thanks for Telling Us What We Already Know

In what may be the ultimate display of Monday Morning Quarterback Coaching, Ken Whisenhunt tells us that maybe, just maybe, Ben Roethlisberger was not physically ready to play at the start of the 2006 season.

Knock me over with a feather.

How is it -- and musn't Bill Cowher be thrilled with these comments -- that the coaching staff missed what fans were speculating on througout the season?

Of course the youth/inexperience of Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes, and some inconsistent play along the offensive line didn't help matters any, but it is safe to say that if your starting quarterback goes one-on-one with the windshield of an autombile there are bound to be some long-term affects.

Here is a report on Mr. Whisenhunt's comments, as reported by USA Today:

"In retrospect, the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff underestimated the lingering effects of a life-threatening June motorcycle accident and September emergency appendectomy on star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's psyche.

In a news conference at the Indianapolis scouting combine new Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, Big Ben's former offensive coordinator with the Steelers, indicated Roethlisberger's trademark resilience in rebounding from injuries caused the staff to 'misread' how much his traumatic offseason impacted his worst season to date.

Roethlisberger was medically cleared to return to play in Pittsburgh's August preseason opener and appeared fine on the surface. But Roethlisberger wasn't the same confident quarterback under pass-rush duress after leading the Steelers to a 24-7 record his first two seasons, including the Super Bowl XL championship. He returned to the playing field two months after undergoing reconstructive surgery to repair a broken jaw and orbital bone suffered after a June 12 motorcycle collision with a car.

Turns out, the Steelers may have been better off staying a little longer with backup Charlie Batch after Roethlisberger rushed back to play two weeks after his Sept. 3 appendectomy.

'He (Roethlisberger) did a good job of coming back and getting prepared,' Whisenhunt says. 'Maybe just from being in the pocket and having to face the rush, there was some trauma that was with him that maybe we all underestimated from that standpoint. It took him a little bit longer to get over than what we had thought.'

Roethlisberger's 23 interceptions (compared to 18 touchdowns) for the 8-8 Steelers were most in the league and clearly a lingering repercussion of that near-fatal crash.

'When we started the season, or even in training camp, we didn't think it was going to have an effect,' said Whisenhunt. 'But certainly when you go back and look back over it again, I'm convinced that it did.'

Whisenhunt expects a healthy Roethlisberger to bounce back strong under new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

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