With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: QB Ben Roethlisberger
Stock Value: Up
It’s likely a good thing when you 12-year-veteran franchise quarterback is continuing to trend upward, and I do believe that is the case for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, particularly with respect to his 2015 season, which was in some ways the best of his career.
The biggest issue here is, of course, his health, as he missed over a quarter of the regular season—283 snaps, to be exact—plus an additional nine snaps in the Wildcard round, chiefly due to injury. Just six of those snaps that Roethlisberger missed last season were not the result of injury, as he came off the field for the final drive against the 49ers in a blowout in Week Two. He also took off the final two plays of the team’s Week 13 victory over the Bengals.
I am of the opinion that Roethlisberger’s injuries—a sprained MCL and bone bruise suffered in Week Three, a foot injury in Week Nine, a concussion in Week 12, a shoulder to the knee in Week 13, and finally a right shoulder injury in the playoffs—had a meaningful impact on his overall performance.
In spite of the fact that he put up some fairly gaudy statistics, averaging 328 passing yards per game, among the highest in NFL history, and averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt, he also threw 16 interceptions in 12 games, and that is the second-most he has ever thrown in a single season.
I believe that Roethlisberger took on a more reckless position after his knee injury that resulted in him making more ‘gamble’ type throws rather than trying to extend plays by avoiding possible contact, perhaps due to mobility fears, and this had a lot to do with the increase in turnover production.
In 2015, Roethlisberger threw 16 interceptions on 469 pass attempts. He threw just nine interceptions on 608 pass attempts the year before. That is the level of ball protection matched with high offensive productivity that he is capable of producing, and I believe a healthier Roethlisberger will get back to that.
Expect him to break franchise records this year. Expect him to go over 5000 passing yards and set a new franchise record for passing touchdowns. He has the offensive line to protect him, the weapons to throw to, and the right balance of experience and ability to set the league on fire in 2016.