Through three weeks of the NFL season, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has been sacked 10 times, has committed seven turnovers, and has scored only four touchdowns.
It has many in Minnesota calling for the firing of the offensive coordinator and wondering what happened to their promising offensive line. Sound familiar, Pittsburgh Steelers fans?
Sunday’s London loser will be staring at a dismal 0-4 record headed into their bye week. They will also have to deal with the media blame game. While Ben Roethlisberger’s sacks/turnovers/TDs match the third-year Vikings QB, the pressure to produce a win in Wembley Stadium weighs more heavily on the veteran.
Ponder has the services of all-world running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson hasn’t been as Peterson-esque this season (no 100-yard games); however, he has scored three rushing touchdowns. He also has gained 210 more yards than the Steelers’ current top RB Felix Jones. The Steelers have yet to record a rushing TD — in fact, they have not scored one since Week 15 of 2012.
The Steelers hope the debut of rookie future star rusher Le’Veon Bell gives Roethlisberger some help. When asked about Bell getting the start, Roethlisberger only added to the pressure by indicating Bell hasn’t been working as hard as Heath Miller to get back on the field.
This comment on 93.7 The Fan coupled with the removal of game privileges in the locker room shows Roethlisberger may not be ready to welcome Bell into his spotlight quite yet:
“…If you’re a young guy, a rookie, who isn’t playing and isn’t practicing, instead of going down and playing pool, come down and get in your (play) book or ask a guy a question or get treatment. That’s the thing we wanted to make sure the guys understood: It’s about football. If you’re a guy who’s not out there and not performing, you need to find a way to get on the field and perform…a lot of these guys come in and they’re the man on their (college) teams. … When you come to an NFL team, you’re one of many guys. Your attitude, your mentality needs to be that: I’ve got to work.”
Roethlisberger also got a little chippy regarding the lack of attitude on the offensive line. He wants them playing aggressive instead of the worrying too much with assignment details as they are instructed to do by offensive-line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr. Many would agree.
Against the Bears, Ramon Foster and Mike Adams seemed to be thinking more than blocking. Still, cutting down your new running back and using the media to give tips to your O-line definitely adds some self-imposed pressure. And it doesn’t exactly fit Mike Tomlin’s plan of getting to work and ”keeping mouths shut.”
Leaders step up in big games. Roethlisberger stepped up to the microphone all week. Now he needs to heed the call to London before the circus takes over in Pittsburgh.