The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Ben Roethlisberger
Experience: 12 Years
Ben Roethlisberger was coming off the best season of his career, and looked to build on it this season, proclaiming his belief that this offense could produce 30 points a game. A big reason that that projection never came to fruition was because of the amount of time that Roethlisberger spent on the sidelines.
In spite of the fact that he saw by a fair significant amount his lowest sack percentage of his career—having been sacked on 20 of 489 drop backs that did not produce a scramble, or about 4.1 percent—Roethlisberger’s 2015 season was one plagued by injury.
It started early and lasted through most of the season, with the first being the most severe. In the third game of the season against the Rams, Roethlisberger took a shot to the knee on a sack that left him with a sprained MCL and a bone bruise that sidelined him for four weeks, the longest that he had ever been out due to injury in his career.
When he came back, he struggled, throwing three costly interceptions in a 16-10 loss to the AFC North champion Bengals. It was only one game later that he would suffer a foot injury on yet another sack, which prompted him to miss the next start, though he ended up coming off the bench and winning the game.
What came next was the Steelers’ bye week, and then the Seahawks, against whom he suffered a late-game concussion, but he did not miss the next game, and in fact had his best game of the season, throwing for four touchdowns with no interceptions in a blowout against the Colts.
That win was in the heart of a spectacular offensive run for the Steelers, scoring 30 or more points in six straight games, but late struggles foreshadowed more to come in the playoffs. During the regular season, the offense under Roethlisberger converted over 50 percent of its first downs; in the postseason, it dipped below 20.
The Steelers offense combined to score just 34 points in two games, though Roethlisberger managed to go two straight games without turning the ball over for the first time all season. He also had just one touchdown pass, however.
While he put up phenomenal passing numbers, throwing for nearly 4000 yards in just 12 games, he threw just 21 touchdown passes while turning the ball over far too often. His 16 interceptions was the second-highest total in his career, with the third-highest interception percentage, and is something that he cannot repeat next year after trending so positively in the opposite direction under Haley.