Updated 2:03 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18: Roethlisberger had surgery on his meniscus on Monday, and he is officially out for this weekend’s game against New England.
Ben Roethlisberger is hurt. Again.
When Roethlisberger left Sunday’s loss to Miami with an injured knee there was hope for the best and a grave fear for the worst. When he came back into the game there was a noted sigh of relief, but when word broke Sunday night that Ben has a torn meniscus that would require surgery — as first reported by Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — panic started to set in.
In reality, Roethlisberger’s injury isn’t nothing and isn’t everything; it’s somewhere in the middle. As for how long he will be out, that’s TBD, but chances are this isn’t a long-term issue if NFL.com is using words like ‘trim’ a torn meniscus and initial reports were more focused on Roethlisberger missing this weekend’s game against New England than the rest of the season.
Alas, nobody knows until they cut him open, which as NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling wrote, essentially ¯\_(ツ)_/¯:
The team will have a more definitive timetable for Roethlisberger after he goes under the knife, Rapoport adds. If the injury ends up necessitating a full repair, he would be out indefinitely. If it’s merely a cleanup, there’s a chance he could miss just the one game.
The Heinz Field tilt with the Patriots had the buzz of what might have been an AFC title-game preview — it still might, if Ben’s not out for that long — but Landry Jones has yet to show he is a long-term answer for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Jones made two starts last season, completing 32 of his 55 passes for 513 yards and three scores. But Jones also had four interceptions, and his ability to spread the ball around and chuck it downfield isn’t close to what the Steelers have when Roethlisberger is healthy.
That said, the team has perhaps the best running back tandem in the NFL with Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams, so Jones will likely do a lot more turning and handing off than throwing it down the field. Whether that’s enough to beat New England remains to be seen. What it means after that is the larger concern.
Short term, Pittsburgh should be alright, loss to Miami notwithstanding. The team has a bye after the game with the Patriots, then travels to Baltimore before hosting the Cowboys. All told, the rest of the schedule isn’t that daunting, so even if Roethlisberger is out for a while or — gasp — the rest of the season, the team is talented enough without him to fight for a spot in the playoffs.
Only … what about the long-term concerns this injury brings up?
With the admission this is wildly speculative considering Ben could be out for a week or two, but it just seems like the guy is always out.
In his career, Roethlisberger has missed 13 games due to injury and another four to suspension following sexual assault allegations back in 2010. Leaving aside an additional Week 17 inactive a few years back for pre-playoff rest, in his 12-year career Roethlisberger has missed 17 regular season games.
Over a dozen years in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger has missed more than one full season. And that’s before this current injury.
Yes. Injuries are part of the game. There are just under 2,000 players in the league and currently 265 are listed as “out” for more than three weeks, or worse, listed on injured reserve.
This season, there have been 43 quarterbacks who have attempted 24 or more passes in the NFL, and that doesn’t include incumbent starters like Teddy Bridgewater and Tony Romo who haven’t taken so much as a snap after preseason injuries. Some teams — New England and Cleveland for example — have had three (or four) different starters this season. In today’s NFL, it stands to reason every team will at some point play their backup quarterback, which is why it has become so important for teams to have a good enough understudy — or understudies — to perform at a replacement-or-better level.
Jones has a lot to prove in Roethlisberger’s absence, however long that may be. Longterm, Ben’s not going anywhere for a while — his contract runs through 2019. But with yet another injury to a body that has taken an incredible amount of punishment in an already-long career by NFL standards, the Steelers need to prove they can survive without Ben. For however long, and however often, they need to.