For all of the midseason frustration and trade speculation surrounding Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II made it clear Wednesday that there will be no changes at quarterback in 2014.
The Steelers traditionally have extended their quarterback's contract with two years remaining. Rooney suggested salary-cap issues might prevent that from happening this offseason, but he still expects an extension "at some point."
Whereas Rooney noted the Steelers "slipped" on defense, he believes the "arrow points up" for an improved offense.
"I certainly liked the way we finished. We, as far as I'm concerned, should be in the playoffs," Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. " ... (Roethlisberger) got better as the season went on, and that's certainly what we were hoping for ... I do think the way he performed over the last, let's say, three-fourths of the season, is what we were hoping for."
An underlying tension in Pittsburgh the past two years has been Roethlisberger's desire for more control versus the organization's hope that he would change his playing style to emulate Peyton Manning and extend his career.
The two sides reached a happy medium over the final seven games in which Roethlisberger was sacked just seven times.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley finally allowed Big Ben to take the reins in a no-huddle attack, taking control at the line of scrimmage in a manner similar to Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
"You have to like the fact that he stayed relatively clean in the second half of the season, and there's no doubt that's what we like to see," Rooney explained. "We'd like to see him last another five, six, seven years, whatever it is."
The Steelers will spend the offseason fixing a defensive nucleus that has deteriorated to the league's bottom third. Buoyed by Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, the offense will need nothing more than minor tweaks.