Ben Roethlisberger: ‘It’s tough’ not having a big deep-threat target


Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is trying to run an offense with just two wide receivers 6 feet or taller.

So far he hasn’t been able to make it work.

“They’re aren’t the biggest guys in the world, so it’s easy for defensive backs to hold them, push them and arm-bar them, and they aren’t getting the calls,” Roethlisberger said earlier this week to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “So it’s tough. They just need to keep fighting through those things. I know they will do that. They take pride in their work and they work hard at it.”

Former wideout Mike Wallace, who caught 32 touchdown passes in four seasons with Pittsburgh, wasn’t a big target at 6 feet, but he is taller than Emmanuel Sanders (5-11) and Antonio Brown (5-10).

Only two of the Steelers five receivers – Jerricho Cotchery and Derek Moye – are 6 feet or taller.

Cotchery and Moye are also the only receivers to have each scored a touchdown so far this season.

Brown has 11 receptions for 128 yards, but his longest is for 22 yards.  Sanders has 12 receptions for 135 yards, but his yards per catch average is just 11.3, lower than Brown’s (11.6).

“Our receivers are a certain build,” Steelers offensive coodinator Todd Haley said. “Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are a certain build and have a certain skill set. Being dominating in size isn’t one of them. That’s why it’s nice to have a Derek Moye on the roster and [sixth-round draft pick] Justin Brown on the practice squad. Those guys are working all the time. Derek continued to make some plays that made us say, ‘Hey, when we get down in there tight, we have a big guy that has a definite size advantage against a bunch of cornerbacks in this league.’ Ben and him did a great job of executing and made it go. It’s definitely a strong suit of his.”

The 6-5 Moye, whose first career touchdown came against the Browns when Roethlisberger lobbed a pass to him in the corner of the end zone from a yard out,  is ready to take on a bigger role in the offense. But for now the Steelers will use him mostly in goal-line situations.

“I just think a bigger receiver can help out the quarterback sometimes,” he said. “If the corner or defensive back has good coverage on the receiver, he can just throw it up and you go up and get it. That’s what I like to think I bring to the offense, and I can do that if need be.”

Roethlisberger will attempt to make his small receiver corps work on Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Heinz Field.

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  • B Hake

    If the line doesn’t start blocking for more than 2 seconds, it doesn’t matter which receivers we have.

    • Bob

      We need to pick up some big veteran linemen to help this team!

  • Edward Rundt

    That is the same song and dance I heard from Big Ben in 2007. Look, it doesn’t matter what the size of the receiver is, it is who the receiver is. Perfect examples are Wes Welker and Steve Smith (both 5’9″). I think there are more important things to worry about right now.

  • Beatlejuice

    The size of the receivers is magnified due to the pass rush Ben faces on just about every play. If you are trying to throw timing routes, jamming the receiver at the line of scrimmage throws off the timing. Teams have been doing this because they know that they can get to the quarterback. This is why I blame Haley, this is an adjustment that he should be able to pick up on. If a team is going bump and run with two receivers and crowding the box. Then you max protect and give your receivers extra time to get open. First and foremost Haley has to commit to pass protection even if one or two people are sent out on a route. Pass blockers can also release after holding a block for a second or two. The point is that if no adjustments are made in real time it is a problem, but if Haley is countering the moves made by the defense this can be exposed. Unfortunately, Todd Haley is no Bobby Fisher and looks more like he is involved in game of checkers while playing chess.

  • Jayden Bratty Matthews

    Maybe if Ben would stop overthrowing the receivers that would help as well. Funny how no one wants to talk about the9 times he overthrew the receivers Mon night. Manny and AB both have proven they can make plays if they get the ball in their hands it is had to do that when Ben is overthrowing them. Besides Plex, when has the Steelers ever had Tall wide receivers and when we did how well did that work out. Limas Sweed ring a bell?? Never heard Ben complaining before about his receivers and all this tells me is he passing the blame on them. That has to bode well with the locker room when his basically saying that his receives cant get it done. SMH

  • Bob

    The idiots had the best deep threat in the league and let him leave! Tomlin and the management are going brain dead.

  • Bob

    As long as Tomlin is the head coach this team will continue to have serious problems. This clown should never have been hired! Rooneys had to support for their Rooney rule