Statistically, the 2017 season has easily been among the worst of his career, but Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not willing to attribute that to mental mistakes. Speaking to reporters yesterday, he said that he feels he has been playing as well above the neck as he ever has.
When asked about moving away from more of a big-time thrower to more of a distributor at quarterback, Roethlisberger said that he is embracing the change of focus, and added, “I really, genuinely don’t know how my stats are, or stack up against other years. But I feel like I’ve been as involved and have had as good of a season maybe between the ears as I have maybe ever”.
I’m sure that there are many who would disagree with Roethlisberger’s assertion, or rather the characterization of his own play. I would be one of them. Certainly, while he has missed some throws, I think his biggest mistakes have been about the decisions he has made rather than physical errors.
His interception against the Lions would be a perfect example, during which he threw to Antonio Brown into triple coverage out of 22 personnel. He never even seemed to try moving over the safety, who ultimately picked off the pass.
Roethlisberger and his quarterbacks coach, Randy Fichtner, have talked about him playing more of a distributor role. Fichter said that he doesn’t need to wear the superhero cape so frequently with all of the weapons on the offense capable of creating yards, likening it to the role of a point guard.
“I played point guard in high school, All-American point guard” Roethlisberger joked with reporters. “So I’m used to kind of distributing the ball and getting us in the best play possible. I just do what I can, run-pass check, ‘run right, run left,’ things like that”.
With the emergence of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster and the hopeful return to relevance of Martavis Bryant, this offense should have quite a few receiving threats, with tight end Vance McDonald also in that discussion as he seems to have his role in that arena being expanded.
“You always have to find a way to distribute the ball”, he told reporters. “Now that we have so many weapons, that’s what’s important. It’s not just about the plays. It’s about feeling the game out, getting a feel for the game mid-game, at the beginning of games, making sideline adjustments, talking, communicating”
“Maybe a guy has a good match-up, being able to get guys the ball that have match-ups, or a guy needing a catch to kind of get into the game”, he went on. “Whatever it may be you have to be an extension of the coaching staff, of Coach Randy on the field”.