Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger might be ‘getting up there’ at the age of 36 (a ridiculous thing to say in life, but quite true in football), but he feels as though he is not only coming off one of his best seasons, but that he is still as good as he’s even been. He doesn’t see himself on the decline.
“I feel as good as I’ve felt in a long time health-wise”, he told the Steelers’ website yesterday before the team’s first training camp practice. “Going back and looking at last year’s tape and really studying and evaluating and talking with [Randy Fichtner] and some other people that I value their opinion on, I might have had one of my best seasons”.
And he’s not talking about statistics. “Statistically, it was a pretty good season”, he said. “But in terms of arm strength, making decisions, all those things, I still feel like I’m playing at a high level and I still feel like I’m going up. I don’t feel like I’m coming down yet”.
If we’re talking about the back half of the season, then I would actually be inclined to agree with Roethlisberger. He was beyond excellent during the second half of the year, really starting to pick up after the disastrous five-interception game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week Five.
If you look at his numbers from the second half of the year, though, they are phenomenal, and worthy of discussion for MVP status. Taking his numbers from the final seven games of the regular season (he rested in the finale, Roethlisberger completed nearly 68 percent of his passes for 1954 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.
If you prorate those numbers over a full season, he would have completed 461 of 680 pass attempts for 5208 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions, with a healthy though not spectacular 7.7 yards per pass attempt.
Roethlisberger began to show sluggishness during the second half of the 2016 season, and when that spilled into 2017, I admit that I was worried, but he seemed legitimately rejuvenated by the end of last season, no doubt due at least in part to his health.
With Antonio Brown as good as ever and now with the two young talents in JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington, and the prospects of Vance McDonald emerging as a legitimate complete tight end they’ve been missing, the two-time Super Bowl champion has potentially as good a cast around him as ever. Oh, and there’s Le’Veon Bell, too, at least for one more year.
Roethlisberger said that feedback from his receivers leads himself to believe that his arm “has actually gotten stronger”. He also felt he proved to himself during the postseason loss to the Jaguars that he still has his legs as well. He scrambled twice in that game for 16 yards, and also was able to avoid pressure on multiple occasions. He threw for 469 yards and five touchdowns in the loss.