One of the things that drive me absolutely nuts is when I hear National Football League experts talk about Steelers’ Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in regards to “when he throws it less the team does better.”
This irks me because for some reason it is only applied to Roethlisberger and now occasionally to Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson.
The debate usually revolves around 300-yard passing games and the amount of attempts that Roethlisberger has in those games. The argument, which Mike Golic of ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike’ tried to make again last week, is that the fewer attempts Roethlisberger has the more likely the Steelers are to win.
Here is what really rubs me the wrong way; why does this perception exist for Roethlisberger yet seemingly no one else? I hear all the time how Roethlisberger is more of a ‘game-manager’ and needs to have a running game in order to be successful.
OK so tell me, what quarterback isn’t better without a running game behind him? Everyone talks about how fantastic Peyton Manning has been this year but have you seen his running game? The Broncos are a very respectable 15th in the NFL in rushing. Knowshon Moreno rushed for over 1,000 yards yet no one discusses this.
In the NFL today, that type of running game is all you need to be successful. Roethlisberger has had both very successful running games and not so successful running games but has found progress in both scenarios.
Let me be brutally honest here though. The reason Roethlisberger is often given this label is because it helps protect the defense’s “off days” too.
To explain, here are the key stats of Ben Roethlisberger in his 28 games where he passed for over 300 yards (he also has one 300-yard playoff passing game as well but I have not included that).
- Wins 13, Losses 15
- 43 pass attempts per loss, 38 pass attempts per win
- 56 touchdowns and 34 interceptions in all 28 games
- Average completion percentage in all 28 games 68.2%
- In his 13 wins, the defense gave up 27 points
- In his 15 losses, the defense gave up 32 points
The argument used against Roethlisberger is that passing too much means the team loses more often. So the fact he is two games under .500 supports this but what about the other numbers?
He has thrown 22 more TDs than INTS and what quarterback wouldn’t take a completion percentage of 68%? The most important numbers however come in the points given up by the defense.
When everyone wants to point fingers at Roethlisberger for losses, amazingly the experts fail to not that the defense has given up an average of 32 points.
I recognize that in some cases there was a pick-six or a turnover deep in the Steelers’ own territory but there is still no way to defend giving up 32 points and then blame it all on the QB regardless of who he is.
If you follow the Steelers at all then you know that Roethlisberger is routinely left out of the discussion when “elite QBs” are mentioned. Part of this deals with the type of team the Steelers were when he arrived and the other part is because people just don’t like him.
Either way, the argument that him passing too much leads to losing all the time just doesn’t wash.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 730pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.