2018 was a career season for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as not only did he set a new single-season high in passing yards and completions, but touchdown passes thrown as well. Roethlisberger also apparently led the league in passes thrown 5 yards or less, according to a recent update posted on Twitter by the NFL Matchup on ESPN account.
According to ESPN, the Steelers attempted 380 pass attempts of 5 yards or less and obviously Roethlisberger was responsible for most of those. According to our own game charting, Roethlisberger attempted 370 pass attempts that flew 5 or less yards and he completed 298 of those for 2,185 yards, which is 42.6% of his total passing yardage on the season. 2 of those incompletions we have down as spikes, however, while 3 others resulted in interceptions. 85 of those short pass completions also went to either a running back or a fullback.
In case you’re curious, we have 167 of those 370 short pass attempts from Roethlisberger in 2018 not even making it past the original line of scrimmage, which is a true reflection of it being an extension of the offense’s running game.
Of those 298 completed short passes that we have Roethlisberger charted as throwing, 1,977 yards were gained after the catch was made for an average of 6.6 yards gained per short pass reception. The fact that our average matches the total average that ESPN has for the Steelers is reassuring that our charting is really on the mark.
While Roethlisberger was the king of the dink and dunk passes in 2018, he still attempted his fair share of deep pass attempts as well as only four other quarterbacks attempted more than he did, according to Pro Football Reference. In fact, Roethlisberger had 115 total pass attempts that flew 16 or more yards in the air past the original line of scrimmage, according to PFR and that number doesn’t include throws of his from the 15-yard-line and in that were thrown into the end zone and he had a few of those as well that should be counted.
What about extra deep passes of 20 yards or longer? Well, ESPN has the Steelers as throwing the fifth-most amount of those in 2018 as well.
The only problem with Roethlisberger’s deep pass attempts this past season is that just 39.1% of the 115 in total that PFR has him down for were completed. A lot of those incompleted deep passes came during the first half the season as Roethlisberger registered a deep pass completion percentage of 42.6 in the team’s final 8 games. In the first 8 games he completed just 35.2% of all deep pass attempts, according to PFR.
By the way, we have the Steelers charted as throwing 84 extra deep passes in 2018, all but one by Roethlisberger, with just 27 (32.1%) of them being completed.
When you look at Roethlisberger’s intended air yard distances from 2018 on Next Gen Stats, you’ll see that his average for the season was just 7.7 yards per attempt. In 2017 that average was 9.2 yards and in 2016 it was 9.4 yards. His average completed air yard distance in 2018 was also just 4.8 yards, down from 5.9 yards in 2017 and 6.4 yards in 2016.
We’ll dive deeper into Roethlisberger’s passing stats as we get further along into the offseason as there’s definitely some data worth looking closer at when it comes to his pass attempts that flew more than 5 yards past the line of scrimmage.