With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming off their bye week and little to talk about in the interim outside of returning players, now would be as good a time as any to take a look back on what’s transpired this season and give out some mid-year player evaluations.
The team as a whole has suffered its ups and downs throughout the season, particularly the bi-polar offense that prefers the comforts of home. Even with all the road struggles, however, the Steelers are ranked seventh in the league in scoring, averaging 26.2 points per game.
On the flip side, the defense has struggled not only with youth and inexperience but also with injuries, en route to posting the 19th-best defense in points allowed, giving up 23.9 points per game, with hopes to start changing that down the home stretch.
Player: Ben Roethlisberger, QB
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is on pace to put up some of the best numbers in his career. That statement looked a bit more assured a couple weeks ago before he threw three interceptions to only two touchdowns over the past two games on the road.
Still, he is on pace to throw more touchdowns and for more yards than he has in his career, while completing the highest percent of his passes, all while posting the best quarterback rating of his career.
He’s done so in historic fashion as well, becoming the first quarterback in the history of the league to throw for over 500 yards on two separate occasions while also becoming the first player to throw six touchdown passes in consecutive games, giving him the most touchdowns in a two-game span in league history with 12.
But he only has another 12 touchdowns in his other nine games played this season, and has one multiple-touchdown game on the road in six tries. In fact, in the Steelers’ last three road games, Roethlisberger’s single touchdown pass of the game came only late in the fourth quarter, with the Steelers winning only one of them.
In fact, the Week Two loss to the Ravens in Baltimore was the only game in his last 40 in which Roethlisberger failed to throw a touchdown. He’s thrown at least one in his last nine games, even if they’ve come late in recent outings.
But, of course, where would this team be without Roethlisberger? For every interception he’s thrown, he’s thrown four touchdowns. For every unnecessary sack he takes, he delivers a handful of impressive plays after contact, an area in which he far outpaces any other quarterback in the league.
One aspect of his performance this season that perhaps hasn’t been given enough attention is just how many new pieces he’s been asked to work with, and yet he’s playing at his highest level surrounding by new faces.
Consider this: the only running backs and wide receivers who were on the roster last season were Le’Veon Bell—then a rookie—Antonio Brown, and Markus Wheaton. The latter was also a rookie, and was limited to six catches, but is now a starter. Credit the veteran quarterback for getting this piecemeal offense into a top 10 performer.