If there’s one thing that stuck out to me while watching Super Bowl LII it was the amount of times that play action was used by both offenses. I mentioned this during the Monday podcast and come to find out, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles attempted 21 play-action passes Sunday night and that was the most ever in Super Bowl history, according to the ESPN Stats and Info Twitter account, Foles, by the way, was 12-of-21 for 118 yards and a touchdown when using play-action against the New England Patriots and he reportedly completed 72% of his play-action pass attempts during the Eagles postseason run.
Nick Foles attempted 21 play-action passes Sunday, most ever in Super Bowl history, going 12-of-21 for 118 yards and a TD. Foles completed 72% of his play-action pass attempts during the postseason. pic.twitter.com/NeSD0maGT3
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 5, 2018
With those stats now out of the way, I’m sure that most of you are wondering how Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fared during the 2017 regular season when it came to him using play-action. If your initial thought is that it seemed like he didn’t use it very much, you would be correct.
According to the 2017 season stats kept by Pro Football Focus, Roethlisberger only used play-action on 56 dropbacks during the 2017 regular season and when it comes to the other NFL starting quarterbacks that started a large number of games throughout the year, he was dead last in that statistic. In fact, even rookie quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and C.J. Beathard had more play-action dropbacks than Roethlisberger did during the 2017 regular season.
While Roethlisberger didn’t use play-action very much during the season, he was effective when he did use it. According to PFF, Roethlisberger registered a stellar 114.7 quarterback rating when using play-action during the regular season as he completed 33 of 50 total pass attempts for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also did not throw an interception when using play-action.
In case you are scoring at home, Roethlisberger did use play-action 11 times in total in the Steelers Divisional Round playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and he was 8-of-11 for 110 yards when using it in that game.
With Randy Fichtner now succeeding Todd Haley as the Steelers offensive coordinator, it will be interesting to see if Roethlisberger will be afforded the opportunity to use more play-action moving forward. I bet he will and I look forward to seeing that happening as in general, Roethlisberger has been very good during his career when using it. With that said, as you can see below in the infographic from PFF last June, Roethlisberger didn’t fare very well at all during the 2016 regular season when it came to him using play-action and perhaps that had something to do with him not using it very much during the 2017 season.
Ben Roethlisberger when not using play action? ⬆️
Ben Roethlisberger on play action? ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XfStX7Z9pj
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 4, 2017