The Steelers have announced that Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell will not play in Pittsburgh’s final game of the regular season Sunday, an inconsequential Week 17 clash with the Cleveland Browns (1-14). Pittsburgh (10-5) has already secured the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
Dallas, meanwhile, has not yet announced whether Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will miss this Sunday’s game in Philadelphia. The Cowboys (13-2) have the best record in football and have already locked up the top seed in the NFC.
So, in review, one team will sit its stars, while another team might play them. Why?
“Who are the guys and what’s the experience of the team?” Super Bowl-winning coach and NFL Network analyst Brian Billick said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You look at Dallas, a young team, they’re going to have the bye – sure, go ahead and play your guys. When you’re talking about Pittsburgh – a quarterback that has been hurt during the course of the season and they don’t have a bye – it makes sense to (sit) those guys. . . . There’s a lot of different ways to do it, and ultimately, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You’re going to be measured by if you go in and lose that first game. Whatever you did is going to be pointed to as the reason that you lose that game because you rested guys or you didn’t rest guys.”
Billick was also asked about his former defensive coordinator, Marvin Lewis, who, according to reports, may or may not retire or resign at the end of the season. There is also speculation that the Bengals could fire Lewis, who has gone 14 years without a playoff win, but Billick believes Lewis will be coaching somewhere in 2017.
“Marvin has clearly passed that 10-year rule – the conventional thinking that you can’t stay in one place more than 10 years,” Billick said. “Cincinnati fans do have a short memory when they forget how bad the organization was before he got there.”
The Bengals went 4-12 or worse in seven of the 12 years prior to Lewis’ arrival. They missed the playoffs every year from 1991-2004 and failed to record even one winning season.
Lewis has changed that. He’s won 10+ games in six seasons, including four of the last five.
“I think the Bengals recognize exactly what they’ve got in Marvin Lewis,” Billick said, “but you’ve got to get over that hump. Sometimes a change has to happen just for change’s sake – both for Marvin and for the Cincinnati Bengals. I’m not advocating that they do that because they’ll get a different coach than Marvin Lewis. They’re not going to get a better coach, but they can get a different one. I don’t know that Marvin is ready to retire yet. He’s still got a lot of football left in him. Whether it’s to do it in some place else, that’s for Marvin to decide. But sometimes there has to be a change just for change’s sake.”