Ben Roethlisberger wants to do more.
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has been under fire for not running a quarterback sneak on short yardage situations, particularly in the AFC divisional round against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Roethlisberger admitted he heard some of that criticsm on sports radio, and wanted to set the record straight. A quarterback sneak wasn’t even an option — he would have run it if he could.
“I truly have never said, ‘I don’t want to run it,'” Roethlisberger said of a quarterback sneak on his show on 93.7 The FAN. “And I don’t have the freedom to check to a quarterback sneak, because we don’t have that call if we’re not in the huddle. Obviously, if we’re in the huddle and you call a quarterback sneak, you do it. If you’re at the line of scrimmage, we don’t have a call to get to a quarterback sneak, so … am I supposed to whisper to everybody, ‘Hey quarterback sneak, quarterback sneak’? If you don’t have a call, you can’t do it.”
The host brought up the idea that Roethlisberger asked the Steelers coaching staff not to make him run sneaks.
“That’s false,” he said. “I’ve actually asked coach [Mike] Tomlin — when we get to the 2-yard line, the 2-point play — to spread the defense out, go empty and get a quarterback draw. I’ve asked for that. He laughs at me and says, ‘Ben, maybe in your younger days. Not now.’ I literally ask him this. I would love to quarterback sneak.”
Even if the decision is for Roethlisberger’s protection, the Steelers’ lack of an audible for a quarterback sneak is shocking. Roethlisberger, who is a 14-year veteran, can can read defenses pre-snap to asses whether a quarterback sneak is the most effective play.
That said, if Roethlisberger wanted to work around his coaches limitations, he could easily do so. He could create an audible of his own in the huddle. He’d just have to tell his teammates he plans to run the ball if he said, “Monkey” or any other word. But perhaps that wouldn’t jive with the Steelers coaching staff.
Regardless, his comments serve as a shot across the bow. He’s pointing out the ludicrous reality that one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL is unable to have free reign before the snap. Roethlisberger wants more — and frankly should get it. Even if he can’t run quarterback sneaks in the regular season, the Steelers should at least implement one for win-or-go-home situations.