With the Pittsburgh Steelers having completed the first portion of their season, now would be as good a time as any to take a look back on what’s transpired this year and give out some midseason player evaluations.
The team has had a rocky but ultimately successful season to date, coming out of the first six games with a winning record despite being 1-2-1 just two weeks ago. Coming off of consecutive strong victories with improve play from both sides of the ball, things are looking up.
The offense has done its part for the most part, but has taken some long vacations. Their disappearing acts in the second half was perplexing, but that has improved. Defensively, the secondary is seemingly becoming a bit more stable after being nothing short of terrible previously, but there are absolutely some real concerns remaining.
Player: Ben Roethlisberger, QB
Boy, has it been frustrating. Ben Roethlisberger is capable of playing as well as any quarterback in the league, as he showed during the game-winning drive against the Bengals on Sunday, but sometimes it takes him a while to show it.
That has especially been the case in the early games of the past few seasons, including this year. His accuracy in particular has been perplexing, worse than his decision-making, though that has led to some clunky play as well.
But there has been some course correction as we approach the middle of the season. In the Steelers three wins over the past four weeks, his accuracy has been much improved, even enough to salvage his completion percentage through some notable drops.
He also has 12 touchdowns on the season, putting him on pace for 32, which would tie his career-high, the first he will have hit that mark since 2014, when he also led the league in passing yardage…speaking of which, oh yeah, he is leading the league in passing yardage.
Currently sitting at 2033 yards, the only player over 2000 so far this year, and that includes Aaron Rodgers’ back-to-back 400-yard performances, Roethlisberger is on pace to throw for 5421 yards so far, which would come only about 50 yards shy of passing the all-time record.
One thing that he must be credited for is that he has never lost the ability to make some truly incredible throws. I take time during the year to go over his throws to look for plays that should have resulted in interceptions, but I look at every single throw, and some of them are just…you don’t expect quarterbacks to be able to make those plays. But he does, almost every game.
While he hasn’t been dynamite under pressure this year, his improved physical conditioning also has been present, even in some scrambles that he has seemed more willing to indulge in so far. Perhaps even the quarterback sneaks can be included into that equation.
But if the Steelers want to win the Super Bowl, they need Roethlisberger to come out of the bye week and play down the stretch the way he did last year, at an MVP level. He has made improvements in recent weeks, but there is still another level to his game. He is still missing too many throws, especially down the field, that have to start connecting.