The Pittsburgh Steelers lost a lot of leadership on the offensive side of the ball. For the last three seasons a leader has walked out of the door. In 2019 they lost Ramon Foster to retirement. In 2020 it was Maurkice Pouncey, and David Decastro who had to be replaced. And now it’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership that will need to be replaced. But it’s not all going to happen at once for the Steelers. No one is going to be able to replicate 18-years of NFL experience and leadership. Super Bowl titles, crushing defeats, and countless other issues that no one on this team has dealt with at this point of their careers.
Thats where Mike Tomlin is going to have to lend a bigger hand than normal. He’s the only one left in the locker room that’s been there and done those things. But they’re going to need it from the players too. And the first name coming to mind for everyone is TJ Watt. He’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He’s the highest paid player on the team by a wide margin. And he’s entering his 6th year in the NFL.
On Wednesday he joined Missi Matthews of Steelers.com for a post practice chat. Matthews asked Watt about what he needs to do to help fill the void of Roethlisberger.
“It definitely is a different team,” without Roethlisberger Watt said. “I just feel like it’s the natural progression as I continue to get older, and I get more comfortable here in the building. I continue to take guys under my wing and grow into a leadership role. But at the end of the day, I’m not trying to be somebody that I’m not…right now I’m just trying to evaluate the newer guys. I might not be as talkative as they’d like me to be, but just trying to see what kind of presence they have around me here and then the leadership role comes into play.
As the Steelers kicked off OTA’s on Tuesday the Steelers lacked some of that competitive edge that they used to get from Roethlisberger during these very voluntary practices. Football in shorts in May doesn’t usually bring out guys competitive edge. But Roethlisberger used to find ways to drum up some fire. He’s often time talk crap to the defense. And he’d get mad if you made a play against him.
Last year Roethlisberger tried to mentor running back Najee Harris and show him the ropes of what it takes to be a leader in the locker room. Watt believes that Harris will be the one that pushes everyone during OTA’s and other summer practices.
I’m sure Najee will be at the top of the list. I know Chuks and a lot of the guys on the Oline always like to talk. That’s the stuff we miss this time of year. You can’t really fully compete, but if anybody wants to talk we can always take it to the golf course too and get into it that way. So we have good competition on and off the field.
When he was asked what the Steelers young offense needs to do to accelerate their learning curve he had one simple answer.
Listen to the older guys. Sit back and really watch how the older guys handle business.
Watt said he was lucky to have guys like Willie Gay in the building to show him the ropes when he was a rookie.
MORE STEELERS NEWS
Steelers TJ Watt Says He Isn’t An ‘Indivdual Goal Guy’ Only Wants To Be A ‘Game Wrecker And Win A Super Bowl”
New Steelers’ General Manager Omar Khan: “I am extremely excited for this opportunity to be the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers”
Steelers Pat Freiermuth on Kenny Pickett “He Never Beat My Alma Mater – So We’re Good”