Through the first two games of the 2018 regular season, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has had a rough go of trying to connect on deep passes down the field. More specifically, he has struggled with his accuracy on planned deep balls. His deep passing numbers, while still below average, are inflated by three improvised plays with Jesse James on Sunday.
The quarterback talked about his struggles on deep passes after the game, saying that he told offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner that he felt his ball was moving to the right. And that is what ended up happening during the game.
During his radio show yesterday, he was asked specifically about the first play of the game, a pre-planned deep shot to rookie James Washington. His hosts asked him if he would have liked to have that one back, but he responded that he felt it was actually the best deep throw he made on the day.
“That deep ball is actually the best one that I threw of the day, and that may sound crazy to people because we didn’t complete it, but I put it where I wanted to, on the line, with him in-stride”, he said. “I think that’s just a little bit of adrenaline, first play of the game, not sure how your arm’s going to feel and just let it fly a little more than I anticipated. And you’d rather miss a little long too because you want to give you guy a chance to go get it”.
The only pass that Roethlisberger completed that traveled 20 yards or more through the air—of eight attempts—that he completed was an improvisation to James. He did complete five of 13 passes thrown 15 or more yards through the air, three of which were the passes to James. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown also caught one such target apiece.
On the first throw in particular, Roethlisberger talked about the fact that he was throwing to Washington and that the two are still getting to know each other. “That’s James, too, a guy that we’re still figuring out, I’m still figuring out, kind of, the connection and how on deep balls”, he said.
“Some of that is me just still trying to figuring him out. I know we didn’t connect on that ball, but it stayed in play and it was where I wanted it to be”, he continued, pointing that that a few deep passes he threw to Washington later, he “kind of left them outside of the field of play a little bit”.
“Those are the ones that bother me”, he told the hosts. “You’ve got to at least give your guy a chance. I didn’t overthrow him in terms of down the field, but you’ve got to give him a chance to make a play, so that’s where I think I was more frustrated with my deep ball”.