End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Ben Roethlisberger
Experience: 11 Years
Was the 2014 season the best of Ben Roethlisberger’s 11-year career? The case could certainly be made for that to be true, and he also put up the numbers, and received the accolades, to back it up.
Roethlisberger continued to break franchise records and make history in 2014. He tied his own franchise record with 32 touchdown passes thrown, but accomplished that feat while throwing only nine interceptions.
He shattered the franchise marks in pass attempts, completions, and passing yards in a season, with 408, 608, and 4952, respectively. His 4952 passing yards led the league, and that is the first time a Steelers quarterback has ever led the league in that category. He also remains the only quarterback in team history to throw for over 4000 yards in a seasons, having done so four times.
Other numbers to consider—a career-best 67.1 completion percentage, averaging 8.1 yards per pass attempt. While he fumbled nine times—some not his fault—and lost five of them, overall his ball security has been better than ever.
By throwing just nine interceptions on 608 pass attempts, Roethlisberger posted a career best pass attempts to interception ratio, turning the ball over through the air on just 1.4 percent of his throws.
These numbers all helped earn him a Pro Bowl nomination, though he will not participate in the game. But the numbers alone don’t fully explain why the 2014 season may have been the best yet of the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback’s career.
It is, in fact, the command of the team and the leadership that he has demonstrated as he has entered his 30s that shows Roethlisberger at the top of his game. He looks around the offensive huddle today and he sees a bunch of new faces, the faces of players who haven’t even been in the league half as long.
It was Roethlisberger’s leadership that helped the Steelers orchestrate their best offensive season in team history, prodding his young players such as Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant to strive for greatness.
While it may be true that he has about as much talent gathered around him as he ever has in his career, it is equally true that Roethlisberger has been fundamental in the process of building cohesion, and it’s that unity that has this offensive unit on a continually upward trajectory.
Needless to say, working out a contract extension is a top priority this offseason for the Steelers.