Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who suffered a pectoral injury in the team's Week 2 home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, told reporters on Wednesday that he'll do "everything he can" to play on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
But with or without the 39-year-old veteran, the Steelers desperately need to fix their offensive line woes. Roethlisberger took a licking against Las Vegas -- he was hit 10 times and sacked twice -- and if his protection remains subpar, fans shouldn't count on Pittsburgh contending for a playoff spot.
"When you talk about a veteran quarterback at this stage in his career, you've got to have sound structure in front of you to be successful," CBS Sports HQ analyst Bryant McFadden told the Tiki and Tierney show on Thursday. "Look at Tom Brady. He's not a mobile guy, we know he's been a statue throughout the majority of his career. But his offensive line does a great job in making sure he's comfortable.
"That has to be the case in Pittsburgh if they expect to see better numbers coming from No. 7... The continuity, or the lack thereof, is definitely showing up. You've go so many new faces on the line, the chemistry and the rhythm clearly aren't there... They've got to come together, because that offense will only go as far as the offensive line goes... The individuals on the offensive line, they've got to look in the mirror and play better football."
Through two games, Roethlisberger has looked... adequate. He's completed 62.5-percent of his passes for 483 yards, with two touchdowns and one pick. But the passing attack is predictable when the running game is absent, and entering Week 3, the Steelers rank last in the NFL in average rushing yards. Call it a recurring problem, since they finished 2020 in the same exact place.
Roethlisberger's lack of time in the pocket has also eliminated the deep ball. According to Next Gen Stats, of his 72 total pass attempts, only eight have traveled 20-plus yards. And against the Raiders, Roethlisberger didn't even throw a single pass in the middle of the field beyond 10 yards.
Pittsburgh (1-1) and Cincinnati (1-1) are scheduled to kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, the Steelers currently have a 33-percent chance to reach the playoffs and a 16-percent chance to win the AFC North.
The entire NFL conversation between McFadden and Tiki and Tierney can be accessed in the audio player above.