Ben Roethlisberger is no longer just the, manage his pass attempts, pick your spots type of quarterback he was coming into the league in 2004. Not the seemingly freelance first, take off running, collide into linebackers downfield player.
Make no mistake, there are still parts of his game that hearken back to his first few seasons in the league. But over time, born out of natural progression and necessity as he got older, Roethlisberger’s game has become more complete and refined.
“He understands where to go with things. He understands the run game, how it meshes with the pass game and those kinds of things,” said quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner to reporters during last week’s OTAs and highlighted again in an article by Mike Prisuta of steelers.com.
He’s been given an impressive amount of freedom by Haley, able to audible at the line, throw hot even on a called run, and run countless packaged plays that give him a run/pass option.
The Steelers’ offensive line has a lot to do with Roethlisberger’s decreased sack totals but the quarterback’s sped up internal clock has also played a role. But it doesn’t mean he no longer makes “vintage Ben” plays the team has been so accustomed to.
“I think what he did as good as anything last year was that he picked his spots. He knows that’s not something he can do every single play. I thought he did a good job of picking those spots when to make the Ben-like plays. And he is the best in the world at that,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley told reporters.
Perhaps the best 2014 example of that came in the Week One, Ben escaping the pocket and throwing a rocket in the corner of the end zone to Antonio Brown.
Roethlisberger threw for a career high 4952 yards while tying a personal best of 32 touchdowns. He needs just 943 yards to become the 16th quarterback in NFL history to surpass 40,000 career yards.