With three straight losses and the  season-ending injury of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers head into week four looking to be in a state of complete disarray. Avonworth students gave their thoughts on whether the Steelers are in trouble long-term, or if the Steelers are in a period of growing pains, bound for future successes.

Senior Malcolm Rooney gave his input when asked about Big Ben’s injury: “I mean, it sucks. But, it’s probably because he’s really old. He is a good quarterback, he keeps the team together, but he is getting really old. The quarterbacks that got drafted around the same time as him, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, they’re all benched right now, or injured, and I think it’s just time for him to get out of here.” Malcolm is appreciative of everything Ben has done for the Steelers, but believes it’s time for him to pass the torch to someone else.

Could Mason Rudolph take over that role? Malcolm had some input on that matter as well: “I don’t know if he will, because we’re eyeing up other quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick. But if that does happen, we’ll have to see. Big Ben did that for the last quarterback, since he got injured. And then, Ben picked up the slack, and he became the full-time first-string quarterback.” It’s true, as Ben has led the Steelers to many winning seasons, playoff contentions and victories, and two super bowl rings, along with a third super bowl appearance.

Photo by Alec Kreutzer

Junior Emily Davis also gave her opinion on Big Ben’s season-ending injury: “I think it’s kind of upsetting. I know he’s been playing for a while now, but his age is just coming to an end for the NFL. I think that’s just kind of upsetting.” Big Ben is 37 years old, past the 35 year average age of retirement. He is certainly within the range of retirement age.

Will Big Ben retire? Or will he return with fire for the 2020-2021 season? Emily had some interesting thoughts on this matter as well: “I think he’ll honestly come back. I don’t know if he’ll be completely at his best, just because he came back from an injury. I know he’ll definitely come back, because I don’t think he’ll want to end his career after that. I think he’ll want to play one more year.”

Emily’s opinion on the matter reflects Big Ben’s recent statement: “I’ve been informed that I need season ending surgery on my elbow to continue playing football at the level I expect. This is shocking and heartbreaking for me, to miss this much of a season and feel like I am letting down so many people. I can only trust God’s plan, but I am completely determined to battle through this challenge and come back stronger than ever next season. The Steelers committed three years to me this offseason and I fully intend to honor my contract and reward them with championship level play. I will do all I can to support Mason and the team this season to help win games. I love this game, my teammates, the Steelers organization and fans, and I feel in my heart I have a lot left to give.” Big Ben wants to come back, to honor his contract and to give Steelers fans (hopefully) future seasons to remember.

Senior Matt Springer gave his thoughts on Mason Rudolph’s first career start: “I think he started a little slow. He got a little more with it towards the end of the game, but it was a little too late for him to have a real impact on the game.” Matt is largely correct, as Mason’s passer rating for the first two quarters was much lower than the final two, and he threw two touchdowns late as well. He also did not capitalize on turnovers with touchdowns early.

The Steelers defense is another big question. Matt gave his opinion on them as well, following their week three performance of causing five turnovers: “Five turnovers is a lot for any defense. Some of those turnovers were just weird mistakes by the 49ers. But I do think the Steelers defense played a lot better than past weeks. Minkah Fitzpatrick looked really good in his first game. I think they’ll be better moving forward.” The recent trade the Steelers made with the Miami Dolphins gave them Minkah Fitzpatrick for a first round pick. This trade certainly did add new depth to the Steelers defensive roster. It was reflective against the 49ers.

The Steelers have many question marks surrounding their future. This season has been an anomaly, as the organization is without their HOF quarterback, has started 0-3, seems to be struggling offensively and defensively, and many trades are being made, not typical of the coaching staff to carry out. The Steelers can change their future, but they certainly cannot change their shaky start.

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