3 Things that Got Lost in Ben Roethlisberger's Farewell Monday Night

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

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The Big Ben farewell win Monday night over the Cleveland Browns was an awesome event. The drama and personal stories within the game can sometimes outweigh the games themselves. It’s why we love sports in the way that we do, and Ben Roethlisberger’s final game at Heinz Field lived up to the hype.  

However, it is important to touch on some points that came from what was happening on the field more than the stories off of it.

Kendrick Green vs J.C. Hassenauer

One thing that may have gone unnoticed among all of the #ThankYouBen tweets was that Ben was receiving snaps from someone different on Monday night.  Rookie center, Kendrick Green, who was drafted in the 3rd round this past offseason, was nursing a calf injury.  This paved the way for J.C. Hassenauer to get the start.  This was Hassanauer’s second start of the year with his first against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11.

From all accounts of those who actually analyze that sort of thing, Hassenauer played extremely well.  He held blocks, got chips on incoming rushers and opened holes for Najee.  I am not an X’s and O’s guy, so in this case I will trust the evaluators.

What I am is a results-oriented guy, and the results are clear.  Najee had his best game of his career Monday night.  The career-high 188 rushing yards he gained are impressive, but I am most satisfied with Najee’s 6.71 yards per carry the other night.  The 37-yard touchdown scamper at the end of the game may have helped, but he has had 20+ yard rushes in several games this season and has never come close to that yards per carry average.  Hassanauer can’t be given all of the credit, but he certainly deserves some.  It also may be time to give him, and others, a look at center over Green even when he's healthy.

New O-Line Coach

Another factor that may have played into Najee’s career game is the promotion of Chris Morgan to interim offensive line coach of the Steelers.  This occurred last week after the departure of former offensive line coach, Adrian Klemm.  Klemm took the offensive line job at the University of Oregon.

As a results-oriented guy, I have to say the O-line held up pretty well the other night.  In addition to Najee’s 188 yard game, Ben was sacked just twice and by the same defender, Jadeveon Clowney.  The Steeler O-line held Browns star, Myles Garrett, to just one tackle.  Specifically, Garrett was being blocked most of the night by rookie tackle Dan Moore Jr.  It was a very impressive night for both Moore and the line as a whole, and you have to wonder if Morgan had something to do with that.

Chris Morgan has plenty of experience as an NFL offensive line coach.  He served six years in different roles with the Atlanta Falcons after being an assistant with the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Football Team, and Oakland Raiders.  This is Morgan’s first season with the Steelers.

However, as Klemm left, many were already speculating as to if the Steelers will finally start putting more money into assistant coaches and stop promoting from within.  Promotion from within is fine to an extent, but it appears to be all the Steelers are willing to consider when hiring coaches.  This has led to a continuous revolving door of coaches and coordinators because often the best candidate for the job can be found elsewhere.  However, based on Mike Tomlin’s comments yesterday, it looks like promoting from within may be the case again.

Myles Garrett Isn’t Close to T.J. Watt

This one I’m throwing in here for my own pleasure of writing about it.  Browns fans think Garrett is somehow comparable to T.J. Watt, when Garrett isn’t good enough to scrape the field paint off of Watt’s helmet after the game.  I know Pro Football Focus and those in Cleveland will talk about double teams and schemes, and bleh bleh bleh.  The guy was held to no sacks and one tackle in a division matchup. 

The fact is, Myles Garrett’s play as of late is one of the main reasons the Browns are missing the playoffs again for the 19th time since 2002.  Garrett has been held without a sack in his last three games, and the 4.5 sacks he has in the last eight games matches the number of sacks Watt had…Monday night.  We learned Monday night that, in addition to Watt being the clear defensive player of the year, Garrett isn't even close to the game changer that Watt is.