I, like you, don’t care much about the NFL Top 100. Ultimately meaningless, forgettable, and sorta silly. But I did want to pay attention to how Ben Roethlisberger was viewed in this year’s edition compared to last year. While their rankings were nearly the same, the explanation was vastly different.
And much more accurate.
Last year, Roethlisberger was stilled viewed as “Backyard Ben.” The sandlot quarterback of how his career began, throwing off and eluding defenders, extending the play for what feels like a decade, and then finally finding a receiver.
Here’s the clip they included from Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive end Carlos Dunlap in the 2016 discussion.
“Backyard Ben, it’s going to be a long day for the defensive line because he does not have that normal quarterback clock. He’s going to do whatever it takes to make a play and typically he’s got two and three guys hanging on him.”
That was literally the theme of the video, “Backyard Ben,” the first words spoken in it, accompanied with some “wacky,” Yakety Sax knockoff music.
But the examples weren’t even good, far from vintage Ben, so the plays and the narrative didn’t add up.
Things changed course this year, perhaps due to a focus on talking to Roethlisberger’s teammates, the guys who see him work every single day.
“A lot of people think Ben is just a playground quarterback,” Darrius Heyward-Bey said. “Naw, he takes five steps, seven steps, he throws it on time. His anticipation is the best in the league.”
Other players from around the league spoke to Roethlisberger’s football IQ.
“He knows the ins and outs of defenses,” said Dolphins’ cornerback Bobby McCain. “Ain’t no fooling him.”
Sure, there was still a mix of “Backyard Ben” thrown in there. But it was a lighter, more appropriate touch, and is accurate with how Roethlisberger’s game has evolved. He’s still capable of extending the play, avoiding the sack, and making the big play, but his game has matured and become much more nuanced than where it was in the early stages of his career. That seems obvious but the league has apparently waited until just now to figure out what Steelers’ Nation already knew.
Compare the two videos side by side and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Click here for the 2016 edition.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 13, 2017