It’s no shock to know Ben Roethlisberger has been well protected this year. But it’s nice to be able to put the number on it. That’s what NFL Matchup did for us, sending out this tweet of the most and least pressured quarterbacks of 2018. I bet you can guess which category Roethlisberger fell into.
Think your QB is under pressure a lot?
— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) November 14, 2018
According to their data, Roethlisberger has been pressured a league-low 19.8% of the time. That makes him the only QB in the league to fall under 20%. Even with how well the offensive line has done, it’s still a surprise to see him ranked below Drew Brees, also playing behind a great offensive line with the quickest release in football.
The tweet doesn’t indicate the total number of pressures the Steelers have given up but extrapolating it based off Roethisberger’s total number of dropbacks, you get roughly 78 total pressures so far this season.
We know the sack numbers allowed are at near record lows. He’s been dropped just 12 times in 2018 and only four over the last six games. The Steelers haven’t allowed more than one sack during that streak, the first time that’s happened since 1986 (when everyone threw the ball a lot less, too).
As you can see in the graphic, the Jaguars’ Blake Bortles is among the most pressured quarterbacks in the league. That line will now be without starting center Brandon Linder, lost for the year, with some uneasy play along the left side. They’re working on their third string left tackle, Josh Walker, who has struggled mightily the last couple weeks. They’ve also signed Ereck Flowers which tells you all you need to know about the state of their o-line.
Bortles has been sacked 18 times this year, including four two games ago in a 24-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers sacked him only twice – total – in their pair of meetings last year. The odds are good of that changing. So are the odds of Roethlisberger being better protected, sacked twice in both of 2017’s matchups. The line has been even more impressive this season while the Jags have an average pass rush after finishing second behind the Steelers a year ago in sacks.