Every week I will chart Ben Roethlisberger’s completions across a variety of categories in an effort to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of the Steelers’ passing game. As we get deeper into the season and as more throws get recorded, this information will become more reliable in identifying various trends and tendencies. If there are any other areas related to the passing game that you think are worth monitoring please let me know in the comments.
Completion Percentage by Coverage Shell
Through the first six games of the 2017 season, Roethlisberger has been significantly more effective at completing passes against Zone coverage than against Man. So far he has played 98 passing snaps against Zone (Cover 2-Zone, Cover 3, and Cover 4) with a combined completion percentage of 74%, which compares favorably to the 120 snaps he’s played against Man (Cover 0, Cover 1, and Cover 2-Man) where he has a combined completion percentage of 58%.
It’s important to note; however, that the types of throws that Roethlisberger attempts against Man and Zone coverages are very different. For example, he is much more likely to attempt low-percentage, downfield passes against Man when he believes he has favorable personnel matchups. Conversely, it is more probable that he will take a quick hitch, throw the pass option on an RPO, or run a screen (all high-percentage plays) against softer Zone looks.
Completion Percentage by Route-Type and Target Area
The next chart depicting Roethlisberger’s completion percentage based on route-types is pretty straightforward; however, notice how nearly all of the major deep routes (Posts, Seams, Corners, and Verticals) are all below a 50% completion rate. If Steelers want to take improve their offense to the next level, this is the area that clearly needs the most work.
Completion Percentage by Targeted Receiver
Similar to Roethlisberger’s percentages against various Coverage shells, his completion rate categorized by his intended receiver is largely dependent on the typical types of routes run by each player. For example, because Martavis Bryant is often targeted on deep throws, it makes sense that his catch rate would be lower than someone like Le’Veon Bell who normally runs shorter, higher-probability patterns. Antonio Brown is the obvious outlier in this area, given that he runs a full route tree and is frequently targeted on plays where he is not conventionally open. Additionally, JuJu Smith-Schuster has been steadily improving each with and his trust with Roethlisberger seems to be developing favorably as well.
Situational Passing Stats
Lastly, I pulled this chart from NFL.com for those that asked to see some stats relating Roethlisberger’s performance in different game situations: