Ben Roethlisberger on Steelers fans booing Mitch Trubisky: ‘I don’t think it’s fair’


The Steelers haven’t had a losing season in 19 years, appearing in three Super Bowls with 12 playoff appearances in that span. Higher standards are a byproduct of that success, breeding an expectation of excellence that might not always be realistic. Passionate to a fault, Steelers fans are more demanding than most, as evidenced by Sunday’s loss to New England, a frustrating defeat that saw starting quarterback (though maybe not for long) Mitchell Trubisky struggle to the tune of 168 yards on 21-of-33 passing (5.1 yards per attempt), absorbing three sacks while also throwing a costly interception.

Unfairly or not, Trubisky has often been labeled a “bust,” burdened by the narrative of being drafted ahead of superior talents Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in 2017. Seen as a “bridge” quarterback keeping the seat warm for eventual starter Kenny Pickett, Trubisky’s early Steelers tenure has been plagued by inconsistency, missing open receivers while reducing Pittsburgh’s once explosive offense to a low-wattage passing game as vanilla as a pint of Haagen-Dazs. Trubisky’s critics are already clamoring for Pickett, but Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh’s starter for much of the past two decades, thinks that sentiment may be premature, cautioning fans not to overreact to eight quarters of football.

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“Did [Trubisky] miss a couple throws? Yes. I just saw Aaron Rodgers miss a couple throws, and he’s one of the greatest to ever play. It’s going to happen sometimes,” the newly retired Roethlisberger relayed to Merril Hoge on his podcast Footbahlin. “Did he play his best game? No. Did he play his worst game? I don’t think so. I don’t think he deserved the fans getting on him [Sunday], because sometimes you’re playing within the system. I’m not trying to say that it’s on [offensive coordinator] Matt Canada either, but sometimes if he’s looking down the field and nobody’s there, he’s taking the checkdown. If you call a wide receiver screen, if it goes for -2 yards, that’s not on the quarterback.”

There’s a danger in taking off the training wheels too soon, exposing Pickett to a baptism by fire before he’s ready, but if Trubisky’s struggles mount, resulting in a loss of confidence, Mike Tomlin may not have that luxury. However, Roethlisberger wouldn’t rush to judgment, expressing a willingness to give Trubisky a slightly longer leash given his pedigree as a past Pro Bowl selection and former second overall pick.

“I thought it was a little early and a little unfair to start booing. I thought the boo birds were more for the offense in general,” said Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl champ who retired as the fifth-leading passer in NFL history (64,088 career yards). “The fact that they were starting to chant some Kenny stuff, we had talked about all this very early on and knew that it was going to come. I just hate it for Mitchell, because I don’t think it’s fair yet.”

We’ll see if Trubisky can redeem himself when the Steelers play in primetime Thursday night at Cleveland.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Joe Sargent, Getty Images