|Ex-Bengals QB Anderson's influence on Roethlisberger showing|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 21:58|
The ball won't be in Anderson's hands, as it was tens of thousands of time during his extended run as Cincinnati's quarterback from 1971 to 1986. Instead, he'll be offering advice and helping select plays for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Anderson, in his first season as Pittsburgh's quarterbacks coach, has not tried to remake his starter's delivery or reshape his game after Roethlisberger followed up his Super Bowl-winning season in 2005 by throwing an NFL-leading 23 interceptions last year.
Instead, Anderson has been more of a sounding board for Roethlisberger, offering guidance, support and a lifetime's work of experience.
``I remind him of that all the time - he's got plenty of NFL experience,'' Roethlisberger said, pointing to the 58-year-old Anderson's 30-plus seasons a a player and coach. ``I think the biggest thing he's helped with is after the games, the next day, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, coming in here and just giving me a recap of what happened and things I did well, things I did poorly and things I can improve on.''
Anderson insists he hasn't done anything dramatic with Roethlisberger, who was good enough to win 27 of his first 31 NFL starts in 2004-05. However, the quarterback's numbers (13 touchdown passes, 5 interceptions) are much better than they were at this stage last season (6 TDs, 11 interceptions).
Roethlisberger has had a bounce-back season despite being among the Steelers players most affected by the change from Bill Cowher to Mike Tomlin as coach. Not only did his head coach change, so did his offensive coordinator (Ken Whisenhunt to Bruce Arians) and quarterback coach (Mark Whipple to Anderson).
Roethlisberger has visibly embraced the change at coordinator, praising Arians and his game plans weekly. However, switching position coaches was difficult because Roethlisberger and Whipple had a close working relationship.
Whipple, who is not coaching full-time this season, remained in Pittsburgh and talks multiple times a week to Roethlisberger. If that bothers Anderson, he's never said so.
``We were very close and we're still close, so it was really tough when he left,'' Roethlisberger said. ``We still stay in contact, get to play golf sometimes. But I think Ken (Anderson) has done a great job of stepping in and being a good quarterback coach for me.''
Anderson has opposed the Bengals before, as the offensive coordinator and QB coach at Jacksonville, but his return trip to Cincinnati is generating more news than usual. The Steelers and Bengals are big rivals, and it's the first time Anderson has been on the opposing sideline in Cincinnati.
Picture longtime Steelers icon Franco Harris on a Bengals sideline, and you get the idea.
Anderson thinks too much is being made of his switch in loyalties, saying it would be much different if he were still playing.
Still, it is obvious that Anderson remains a revered figure in Bengals history after playing for so long and being an assistant coach for another 10 seasons. He threw for 32,838 yards and 197 touchdowns and ran for another 20 TDs, and twice was among the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
``Whenever your coach is a guy that has not just played, but played as long as he did and played well, it helps because it gives him credibility,'' Roethlisberger said.
So much so that, earlier this week, Bengals owner Mike Brown called Anderson the most important player in franchise history.
``He obviously has a lot of close friends here in Cincinnati,'' Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. ``He's beloved here at Paul Brown Stadium. He's a good coach and he's in a good spot right now.''