The time is now for the Steelers to plan for the future

Ben Roethlisberger has the football world talking about something other than the Super Bowl: his retirement.

Roethlisberger told “The Cook and Poni Show” on 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday that he is contemplating his future.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season – if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. In my point of my career and my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year,” Roethlisberger said.

Now, the million-dollar question is whether or not No. 7 will actually retire this offseason. The answer is likely no, but this is an opportunity for the Steelers to start game-planning for the future of their franchise.

Mike Tomlin said he was not alarmed by the comments made by Roethlisberger.

“Ben said it so you have to take it seriously,” Tomlin said. “I’m not alarmed by it, that’s football. Obviously, I’m hopeful he returns.

The Pittsburgh head coach shouldn’t be alarmed right now, as it isn’t likely Roethlisberger will hang up his cleats, but he (Tomlin) needs to start thinking about Big Ben’s successor. Pittsburgh has seemingly avoided looking for a successor, but now is the time to do so. They can go about that via the draft, free agency or potential trade options.

Roethlisberger has been the recipient of a lot of punishing hits in his 13-year NFL career and that adds a lot of wear and tear to any player. He will be 35 in March, so him talking about contemplating what’s next isn’t uncommon nor did it come from out of the blue. He said he does this every year, but this time should add more of a sense of urgency to the front office about replacing their future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Big Ben and company are coming off a 36-17 thrashing in the AFC Championship game at the hands of the New England Patriots. After the game, Roethlisberger said that his team was outplayed, outcoached, and out-executed. While this was certainly the case, some blame needs to be divvied up as to what went wrong.

First off, the Steelers did the same thing they always do against New England and that is rush three defenders and sit in a zone. You cannot do that against Tom Brady or he will pick you apart, just like what happened last Sunday. This part of the blame goes to Tomlin, who has yet to switch things and try and get more pressure on Brady.

Secondly, the offense looked atrocious in the final two games of the season. In 19 series (the entire game against the Chiefs in the divisional round and the first 50 minutes of the AFC Championship Game) the potent Pittsburgh offense generated zero touchdowns. This blame is divided to Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

As for Roethlisberger, his blame is for being such a great quarterback and not being able to use the weapons in your arsenal. Sure, Le’Veon Bell didn’t make it out of the first quarter due to a groin injury, but he still a stud of a receiver in Antonio Brown. This high-powered offense looked like a shell of itself.

Haley deserves more blame than Big Ben due to the personnel he has to work with and his play-calling. It seems unfathomable for a team with the likes of Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell, aka the Killer B’s, can’t find the end zone, but Haley found a way to not call the correct plays for that to happen. The turning point of the AFC Championship Game was when tight end Jesse James was stopped just shy of the goal line with just under two minutes remaining in the half. Haley called two run plays, then a pass to the flat that fell incomplete. With a 6’5”, 240-pound Roethlisberger, Haley didn’t think it was a wise decision for him to keep the ball? Nonsensical.

Ben Roethlisberger will be under center for the Steelers in 2017, but after that is up in the air. With his recent comments, however, Pittsburgh has to address how they will move on once Roethlisberger finally decides to ride off into the sunset and eventually into Canton.

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I am a 2013 graduate of Clarion University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a concentration in journalism. I aspire to be great. I love sports and professional wrestling. Follow me on Twitter @KIngEdward15 and engage in sports talk with me.

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