You may not want to hear this, but Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is actually one of the top performers in the league when he gets into the red zone. So says Pro Football Focus. And the website also argues that he doesn’t always get a lot of help once he gets the offense across the opponents’ 20.
In an article looking at the top five quarterbacks from last season based on red-zone performance, Roethlisberger came in fifth, based on the website’s grading. He was placed behind Carson Wentz, Tom Brady, Case Keenum, and Jared Goff, in descending order. I think it goes without saying that this is largely results-based grading.
“The product of a strong, well-executed offense, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger ranked second behind Brady in total dropbacks in the red zone, and when he got there, Big Ben delivered”, Roethlisberger’s blurb read. “The now 36-year-old gunslinger completed 51-of-97 attempts for 23 touchdowns and one interception”.
But the second part of the entry also talked about how little assistance he got from his supporting cast, and that includes Antonio Brown. According to their tracking, the Steelers dropped a league-high nine passes inside the red zone last season when he was throwing the football. My numbers are fairly close as well.
Even Antonio Brown received an average to below average grade for his performance inside the red zone, and I do have him down for a couple of drops or potential drops inside the opponents’ 20 from last season. He had a dropped pass in the end zone on the play on which he was injured.
The Steelers get routinely criticized for their performance in the red zone. PFF suggests that Roethlisberger is the least of their problems in that area. 23 touchdowns in the red zone is pretty good, actually, though Brady had 33. The hope is that the team has added or developed new weapons that will help them in this area.
Rookie wide receiver James Washington certainly looks like he can be a red-zone threat after snaring two passes away from defensive backs for touchdowns against the Packers last week. Tight end Vance McDonald, if he can actually get on the field, would make a difference there as well. And you know Brown can do better than he did a season ago in that area of the field.