Parcells has high praise for Roethlisberger
By Jerry DiPaola
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, October 14, 2004

It's the week preceding the Steelers' game against the Dallas Cowboys, and that makes it Bill Parcells' turn to ride the Ben Roethlisberger bandwagon.
Parcells, the coach of the Cowboys, offered the highest praise yet for the Steelers' rookie quarterback who has turned so many heads that hungry fans in Brentwood and North Side diners are now eating Roethlis-burgers.

"I just told the press (in Dallas) that he is the best prospect I have seen in 10 or 15 years," said Parcells, a two-time Super Bowl winner who has been head coach of four NFL teams in 17 seasons.

"I have not seen anybody come in the league like that. The only guy that I can say came in and in the first year started playing like he is playing is Dan Marino.

"He has done a great job, and (the Steelers) have done a good job with him."

A link with Marino, perhaps the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, brought a smile to Roethlisberger's face Wednesday when reporters all but crawled over each other to hear his weekly remarks.

"Obviously, it's quite a compliment from coach Parcells," said Roethlisberger, who is one of only six rookie quarterbacks since 1970 to win their first three starts. "He's been around a long time."

Roethlisberger is five months short of his 23rd birthday, but he is smart enough to wonder if Parcells might be merely pumping up the next opponent with false compliments.

"You have to look at it the other way," Roethlisberger said. "He's been around a long time, so you never know: It could be gamesmanship; it could be sincere."

Still, part of Roethlisberger is humbled by Parcells.

"If I could be half as good as Marino or anybody like that, it would be quite a compliment," he said. "But three games in, it's a little early to be making any statements like that."

Then, showing proper respect for Parcells, Roethlisberger added, "In my opinion."

Roethlisberger will be the first to admit that he is a long way from reaching a complete comfort level with the Steelers' offense.

"You have to remember: I'm still a rookie trying to learn this offense and learn the system and be on the same page with these guys."

Parcells, though, has not seen any deficiencies in Roethlisberger's game.

"It looks to me like he can do about what he wants out there," he said. "He is out of the pocket throwing 50-yard passes right on the money."

Parcells said Roethlisberger is in the ideal situation, surrounded by Duce Staley, the fifth-leading rusher in the AFC, and Hines Ward, the top pass catcher in the conference. His mobility and a solid offensive line have allowed him to be sacked only four times.

"They have good balance on offense," Parcells said. "They are running the ball well. They have a good receiving corps. They are protecting him pretty well. He has done a good job. I am telling you, I am very, very impressed, and it is not just because he is the opponent."

Still, Roethlisberger remains publicly unimpressed by what he has accomplished in his rookie season.

"You win three football games, it doesn't mean anything to me," said Roethlisberger, who has been exposed to only about 75 percent of the offense. "You have to remain grounded.

"My goal is to win the Super Bowl. Once we do that, then I'll start thinking about how happy I am. It's too early to be getting on the bandwagon.

"I'm not satisfied, and these guys aren't satisfied until we go all the way."