Dunlap: I Know Ben’s Best Role


Can you imagine? Guess what --- it might be absolutely dazzling this season if that’s what happens.

I know, I know, I know … maybe not full-on Game Manager Ben. But how does Take Fewer Chances, Get It Out Quickly And Simply Execute The Offense And Watch Other Guys Do Their Thing Ben work?

Sounds great to me.

And it looked great to me the other night as Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went 21 for 32 for 229 yards and three touchdowns in a win against the Giants. He also threw zero interceptions which should keep the “Ben throws too many interceptions” crowd quiet for at least a couple days.

Know what else? I don’t remember Ben taking many deep cracks down the field (outside of that brilliant pitch and catch, which was mainly catch) with rookie Chase Claypool.

It was take-what-they-give-me football at its finest. I’m also thinking it just could be the recipe to keep an aging quarterback healthy and propel the Steelers to a bunch of wins this season.

You see here, Ben just needs to play along. And I’m hoping that he saw --- albeit against a terrible Giants team --- what a facilitator of the offense can do when you have so much damn weaponry. You ain’t gotta always be the man to be the man.

It doesn’t venture into Duck Hodges territory this season who Mike Tomlin once famously said something about not needing to win games, just don’t lose them or something thereabouts, but this Ben should be a much different Ben than we saw a decade ago. Or even a few seasons ago.

I don’t need to see Ben elongate plays.

I don’t need to see No. 7 cut back and zigzag 116 times looking for a receiver and twist around and push aside pursuing rushers.

I don’t need to see Ben take that ultra-deep crack right after the Steelers get the ball off a turnover that seemingly became a hallmark for him.


Give me Safe Ben at 38.

Give me Safe Ben with JuJu and Johnson and Washington and Claypool and Ebron and Snell and McDonald and McFarland.

Give me that guy.

Get it out to them and let those guys go to work. Ben’s heavy lifting can be done by clever playcalling and recognizing where to attack the defense and unloading the ball there. He can master that probably more right now than zipping a ball through the tightest of windows. He is, truly, the offensive coordinator.

The Ben that we saw on Monday night after the first quarter was a thing of beauty. Quicker drops, throwing in rhythm, getting the football out with both an urgency against a bad football team but also with an understanding that what is best for business are the playmakers having it in their hands as soon as possible.

Oh my was it ever wonderful to see JuJu grabbing the football on that shallow cross time and again. I promise you it feels as if that play ---- when the timing is right ---- is there for a 7-10 yard gain every single time.

Every. Single. Time.

It is like stealing.

If the corner wants to come up and press JuJu, he will blow by him for a big gainer so I don’t anticipate that happening.

So what are corners left with?

Laying off a bit and pretty much giving JuJu that quick hitter that goes for 7 yards each time. What magic.

That’s the way to go; do a Tom Brady impersonation.

Manage that game Ben. Do your thing in a different way this season. We just might see a different Ben; a Ben that isn’t necessarily just a bit part, but a Ben that is fully comfortable letting the other stars shine brightest.

And that tactic could just be the most effective.​