Pittsburgh Steelers Are Setting Up Big Ben to Fail in 2021

Keith Srakocic/Associated PressAfter being brutalized by the upstart Cleveland Browns in the first round of the playoffs, Ben Roethlisberger, a teary-eyed player, sat on the bench near his center, Maurkice Poouncey. This image will be the Steelers' 2020 campaign.It was a mystery to everyone whether this was the end of the future Hall of Fame quarterback.Although it wasn't, the Steelers did not do Roethsliberger much favors with their approach to building an offense around the 39 year-old this offseason.Many will believe that the Steelers did a good job with their quarterback, adding running back Najee Hari and tight end Pat Freiermuth in the first and second rounds. These decisions will be worse when you look back at them after Pittsburgh lost multiple high-end offensive lines prospects.Roethlisberger will be punished for his mistakes.David DeCastro was released Thursday. However, there are some extenuating circumstances. Six-time Pro Bowl selection DeCastro, who was also selected last season, had ankle problems that required further evaluation.DeCastro said to Joe Starkey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "I need to have surgery on my ankle a 3rd time." "I tried to fix the problem last year, but the bone spurs kept returning. It was a constant nag throughout the year.Although the two-time All Pro guard is likely to retire, he has not yet made a decision. Although it is not a certainty, the possibility of him stepping down remains.DeCastro stated, "Gotta wait to see how the surgery proceeds." "But I would not hesitate to call it a day and move on with my life."Kirk Irwin/Associated PressPittsburgh was able to save $8.75million by having the lineman released, compared to the '21 salary limit. Trai Turner will likely be DeCastro’s replacement, and some of the cap space was recouped. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Turner signed a $3 million, one-year deal.The 28-year old adds a Band-Aid to a foundation that is crumbling.The Steelers are exciting from a fantasy football standpoint because they have wide receivers Chase Claypool and JuJu SmithSchuster (who was re-signed this offseason), and Diontae John. Eric Ebron joins Freiermuth at tight end. Harris will be the focal point of this scheme, after Pittsburgh was last in rush offense last season.Ownership would like to see a more physically demanding football team in the fall.Art Rooney II, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, stated that "we've got to improve at running [the football] and we certainly don't want the Pittsburgh Steelers to be last in the league for rushing ever again." He spoke to fans during a March Q&A.What happens if the offensive line fails to open gaps or provide pass protection? Everything begins to crumble. Although it's possible to draft the best running back prospect and a highly skilled tight end, it is not practical. These pieces must be considered in the context of the whole offense.Under new play-caller Matt Canada, the Steelers' scheme will undergo major changes. Harris will be a reliable workhorse. Expect more presnap action and play action, with fewer shotsgun and empty sets.Roethlisberger stated, "You won't see anything that you haven't seen in the past."These factors will allow the quarterback to mask his personal and organizational limitations. The Steelers will still be at a disadvantage in the trenches, however.Turner's addition is great on paper but he's actually a downgrade. According to Justin Edwards, Pro Football Focus' Justin Edwards, Turner has five Pro Bowls under him, but he's not as good as DeCastro. His blocking grades have also declined in the past three seasons.Kevin Dotson, arguably the Steelers' top offensive lineman, is positioned opposite Turner. Dotson was drafted in the fourth round of last year's draft. He started four games as an rookie and played in 13. Dotson looked and performed like a steal in the middle round. However, the sophomore blocker must display the same potential throughout an entire season.After Pouncey's retirement, the center is up for grabs. J.C. Hassenauer (who started four games last year for injured Pouncey) and Kendrick Green, a third-round rookie, will be competing to be Big Ben's snapper.Green is the team's top-drafted lineman and has a lot of physical potential. However, it is not a sure thing that Green will win the job. Green played primarily as a guard in college, with just four starts playing over the ball.Adrian Klemm, offensive line coach, said that it was a learning process for him. He had to make the transition from being a part-time center to being a full-time centre. He's done an admirable task, all things considered. He has accepted it."It is well-documented that Roethlisberger has a close relationship with Pouncey. It will be a transition for veteran signal-caller, whoever starts at the center.Don Wright/Associated PressGreen's selection could prove to be the most important for Steelers' draft class.Before the third round, there were opportunities to pick a lineman. Teven Jenkins from Oklahoma State, Samuel Cosmi of Texas and Liam Eichenberg from Notre Dame all fell between Harris and Freiermuth. All three of the linemen mentioned will be competing for starting tackle jobs in this fall, with all three expected to start as rookies.Given the Steelers' serious concerns about both tackle spots, these prospects should have been given priority over a runningback, especially considering that quality running back options such as Trey Sermon from Ohio State and Michael Carter of North Carolina are likely to be available later in the season.Chukwuma OKorafor can move from left to right tackle. Okorafor is an athlete naturally, so the transition should be easier even though it's not effortless.Klemm stated, "He's so talented," He's so athletic. You'd like to see him be a bit more physically minded.Okorafor is still waiting to be offered a job as a starter, but he has been offered one. Zach Banner was the right tackle in training camp but tore the ACL in his right leg in Week 1 and then missed the remainder of the regular season. Okorafor, who had an impressive, but not spectacular, 2020 performance, switches to left tackle when Banner recovers right tackle from a major injury. Banner has now had two career starts.There is so much uncertainty surrounding the Steelers' front five. Although the potential exists for the unit's strength, the group could be a disaster. Pro Football Focus had ranked Pittsburgh 29th in terms of offensive line strength even before DeCastro was released.Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and Trey Hendrickson are among the players. Reader and Calais Campbell will be grumbling about having to play against this line twice during the fall.Phelan M.Ebenhack/Associated PressRoethlisberger had one of the NFL’s most stable offensive lines. Pouncey and Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster and Marcus Gilbert, as well as Matt Feiler, are all gone. A long-term stability at the front makes it easier for passers to throw. Reworked offensive lines combined with a weak quarterback don't always create a winning combination.Big Ben was able to throw for 501 yards against the Browns in that crucial playoff game. But what's the point? Cleveland led by 28 points, so Pittsburgh was forced to throw the ball against one of the league’s most inept secondaries. Four gut-wrenching interceptions were also thrown by the quarterback.His career decline mirrors that of the team's 11-0 start, which saw it lose five of six games. Pro Football Focus reports that Roethlisberger's yards-per-try decreased from 7.3 in 2018 down to 6.0 in 2020 following elbow surgery in September 2019. He was rated the NFL's 24th best quarterback. He had the sixth-worst noncatchable pass rate when he was aiming for the sticks or further. Since 2015, the aging quarterback has not posted a single game with a passing grade of 90 or higher. His performance against Browns was comparable to that of Alex Smith and Mitchell Trubisky in postseason performances.Roethlisberger is currently the fourth-best AFC North quarterback. The Steelers trail the Browns and Baltimore Ravens overall. The Steelers' defense should keep them in the thick, but they aren't guaranteed to make it to the playoffs due to Roethlisberger’s downturn and improper roster-building.A focus on the trenches prior to the skill positions could have saved Roethlisberger's last year or two as Steelers' starting quarterback.Bleacher Report's NFL reporter Brent Sobleski is his. Follow Brent Sobleski on Twitter at @brentsobleski