“That’s just Ben being Ben.” We’ve all said it, right?
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can extend a play like no other player currently playing can. It’s a unique trait that more times than not results in explosive plays down the field and unfortunately at times, injuries. That style of play makes him who he is and he knows it. He also has no plans to change that style.
“You always want to be on the field, obviously,” Roethlisberger said recently at the conclusion of a training camp practice, according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post. “Any time you’re not on the field, you’re hurting yourself and your team. But the hard part about that is, I play the game one way. I’ve played it that way for 13 years now and I don’t know any other way to play it. So I’ll do everything I can to stay on the field but to play the game the way I know how.”
Last season, Roethlisberger missed four-plus games due a left knee injury that he suffered during the team’s Week 3 contest against the St. Louis Rams. On that particular play, however, it really wasn’t a result of Ben being Ben as much as it was Rams safety Mark Barron stumbling during his rush attempt and subsequently falling into the quarterback’s lower leg. There really wasn’t anything that Roethlisberger could’ve done different on that play, in my opinion.
Luckily for Roethlisberger and the Steelers, the knee injury didn’t put the quarterback out for the remainder of the season and while his first game back in action against the Cincinnati Bengals was one he’d probably like to forget, he went on to have a solid rest of a regular season that ended with him throwing for 3,938 yards and 21 touchdowns.
While Roethlisberger did throw 16 interceptions last year, the most he’s had since throwing 21 back in 2006, 11 of them came on deep passes thrown more than 15 yards down the field. 3 of those came in that return-to-action game against the Bengals that I previously mentioned. Additionally, another one of those deep interceptions happened in the game against the Seatlle Seahawks as a result of wide receiver Antonio Brown falling to the ground during his route as a result of questionable contact by cornerback Richard Sherman.
Throwing deep is who Roethlisberger is as a quarterback and while he might throw an occasional interception when doing so, more times than not he’ll be right on the money with those throws.
According to Pro Football Focus, Roethlisberger was the most-accurate downfield passer in 2015 when it came to him throwing 20 or more yards past the line of scrimmage as he threw a catchable ball 50.7% of the time.
Roethlisberger is not going to change the way he plays and apparently offensive coordinator Todd Haley is fine with that as well.
“I think every [person], whether it’s a coach or a player, they always care about your health and want you to stay on the field,” Roethlisberger told Maske. “But that’s why I think I’ve been blessed with the great coaches I’ve had around me, is none of them tried to change me. They just let me be me and play the game the way I know how to play it.”
Over the years, the Steelers offensive line has grown accustomed to Roethlisberger’s style of play and even though that front unit was without the services of starting center Maurkice Pouncey for all of last year, in addition to not having starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum for over half the season, Roethlisberger still wound up as the least-pressured quarterback in the league, according to PFF.
With the 2016 season quickly approaching, the Steelers and Roethlisberger are poised to make a run at yet another Lombardi Trophy and rest assured if that ultimately happens, you can count on saying several times during the season, “That’s just Ben being Ben.”