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More Efficient Ben Roethlisberger Comes With Development Of 2nd-Year Players

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is currently on pace for a few career-bests through the first five games of this season.

He is currently on pace to throw for more yards than he ever has in a season. He is on pace to finish the year with the best touchdown-to-interception ratio of his career.

And he’s also on pace to finish with his best completion percentage for a season as well.

The 11th-year quarterback is currently completing just under 69 percent of his passes on the year after completing at least 72 percent of his passes in each of the past three games.

The figure is marred by a sub-60 percent accuracy night against the Baltimore Ravens, during which nobody looked quite right.

Since that Week Two game, he has thrown six touchdown passes with no interceptions on 106 passing attempts, though it must be noted that he has also lost a fumble in each of the past two games.

The most impressive statistic, however, is that fact that, since then, he has completed 72.6 percent of his passes, logging 77 completions during the past three games on those 106 pass attempts, drops included.

Roethlisberger’s efficiency through the air is perhaps one of the biggest offensive developments thus far this season, which has been greatly assisted by the development of some of the team’s 2013 draft picks in bigger roles.

Running back Le’Veon Bell caught 45 passes last year. He already has 24 this year. Naturally, running back catches tend to be near the line of scrimmage and are high-percentage throws, so incorporating the running back more into the passing game would theoretically translate into a higher percentage of completed passes.

But the emergence of Markus Wheaton has also been a boon to Roethlisberger’s efficiency, even with his first dropped pass of the season yesterday. The pair is still connecting on about 75 percent of their targets.

Roethlisberger never had that kind of precision association with Emmanuel Sanders, who only caught more than 60 percent of his targets once in his career. With that said, he is, thus far, finding great success this year with Peyton Manning.

It also helps that Roethlisberger is throwing such a high percentage of his passes to Antonio Brown, even with his fair share of dropped balls this year.

Add in tight end Heath Miller, and the veteran quarterback is arguably surrounded with his most reliable passing unit of his career. It’s showing up as well, both on the field and on the stats sheet.

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