Dunlap: I'd Love To Know Real Big Ben/Tomlin Story

What happened with QB play might remain mystery

Colin Dunlap
December 10, 2018 - 1:19 pm

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know if I have looked forward to anything on 93.7 The Fan as much as I am looking forward to Tuesday's Ben Roethlisberger Show at 11 a.m. with the namesake of the show and hosts Ron Cook and Joe Starkey.

And then, when that's all over, I will look equally as much forward to the live coverage of Mike Tomlin's media gathering from Pittsburgh's historic South Side. 

I can't wait for either. Both should be riveting. Both will be unbelievable theater. Both might break the Radio.com app that streams our station. 

All that said, however, I'm wondering if we will get any clearer answers on anything --- because where it all rests now with the way the quarterback situation went down in the second-half of a loss to the Raiders on Sunday isn't adding up. No, it just smells a little fishy to me. I don't know if there are untruths, a lack of full disclosure, miscommunication, something lost in translation or any and all of those. But, yeah, it isn't making sense. 

For his part, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said: “[Roethlisberger] got looked at at halftime. He got treatment. He came back out and we were waiting to see if he was going to be able to come back in. He was. Probably could have come in a series or so sooner. But we were in the rhythm and flow of the game. He was ready to go when he got back out there.”

Everyone knows the Steelers were in zero rhythm or flow. They were, simply put, trying to make sure backup Josh Dobbs didn't turn the football over as everyone waited to see if Roethlisberger would be re-inserted to the football game. 

Roethlisberger, for his part, said that he was ready and just waiting for Tomlin's OK. The quarterback claimed he was good to go after getting treatment in the locker room at halftime and for a small span of time in the third quarter and he waited on the sideline for Tomlin to approvingly tell him to get in the game --- all the while Roethlisberger claims he was good enough to get in there. 

This is precisely where the rubber meets the road. 


If, in fact, the words are true and Mike Tomlin opted to play Josh Dobbs (for any length of time) instead of Roethlisberger in a game that was of such deep consequence as the Oakland game, there should be serious doubts about Tomlin's ability to do his job. I will go so far as to say it is an offense by Tomlin that should merit termination or, at the very least, serious consideration of termination by someone with the surname Rooney.

Simply put: Anyone in their right mind who would elect to play Dobbs over a healthy Roethlisberger doesn't deserve to be coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The situation is so obviously not the right coaching decision, I wonder if Tomlin would make it. Again, if he did, he should be terminated. 

But I wonder if there is a chance (and it think it could be the case) that we aren't hearing the whole story. 

It amazes me how fans who have seen Roethlisberger and Tomlin’s antics (good and bad) for so long don’t get how this very well could have gone down. Tomlin could have left the decision pretty much up to Ben and the offensive staff as to if (or when) Roethlisberger was going to go back in.

With that leeway, Ben decided he would have Dobbs ride out the situation as long as the Steelers were winning and if they got behind --- or the game was tied --- jump back into the game. 

To me, it's a very logical way Ben could have handled it and, to be honest, exactly how it played out for Roethlisberger. The Steelers got behind and Ben led them as a conquering hero on a touchdown drive and what should have been a last-second field goal drive to tie. That was until the defense and a kicker who can't seem to make anything this season messed it all up. 

I mean, isn't Ben Roethlisberger to the point in his career where he tells the coach when he goes in and not the other way around? It would seem to be. 

For me, this is all pretty simple to see. Either Ben Roethlisberger isn't necessarily telling the entire truth or Mike Tomlin committed a coaching offense so egregious that he probably should pay with his job. And there is no gray area, there is no in the middle --- it is one or the other. 

A part of me believes all that was said, but another part of me says there is positively no way in the world a quarterback who has played 15 years and is headed for the Hall of Fame, who Tomlin has a ton of faith in, told Tomlin to put him back in and Tomlin said "no." That seems unfathomable. But as the story is presented right now, that's what we have to takeaway if we believe face value. 

When jumbled together this all makes for an unreal Tuesday. First, Ramon Foster (who was in the huddle and on the sideline) will talk on 93.7 The Fan at 8.

Then Roethlisberger at 11. 

Then Tomlin at noon. 

Get yer popcorn ready. We will either find out a whole lot or, and this is most likely the case, walk away with even more questions.