Ben Roethlisberger became the second quarterback ever in now 11 instances to throw for 5000 yards in a season and not make the Pro Bowl, with is a rather interesting but dubious distinction that he shares with Matthew Stafford. The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback threw for more yards, but also more interceptions, than anybody in the league, while also throwing a career-high 34 touchdown passes.
In spite of his great overall numbers in terms of yardage and points, there is a sense from the outside that his 2018 was not great—it doesn’t help that the Steelers missed the playoffs, of course, though only so much of that can be placed at the feet of the offense.
Make no mistake, there are areas in which Roethlisberger can improve. One area in which former quarterback David Carr would like to see him to better this season is in executing the routine plays. “What he’s always made his money on is making plays off-schedule”, he said during an NFL Network segment. “You’ve got to make the routine plays, though. You’ve got to make the right decisions. You’re a veteran quarterback”.
Carr, who believes his younger brother, Derek Carr, is better than Roethlisberger, highlighted the interception that he threw at the end of the game against the Denver Broncos as an example of the routine plays that he needs to execute better. Of course he doesn’t mention the things that went wrong to help contribute to the bad play.
“There’s the safety. You point him out, you know you’re trying to fake out the defense, telling Antonio Brown, ‘go in there and block him, we’re gonna play-action fake this’”, he said in describing the play, which you can see through the link above. “But look at my feet. They’re together, you’re falling over. Where are you throwing the football? I mean, if it doesn’t get intercepted by the defensive lineman, the corner’s gonna pick it off. So you can’t make those type of plays”.
It was a rather dubious play selection to use given its high-profile nature in the role it ostensibly played in the devolution of Brown’s relationship with the team. Brown, of course, is now on the Oakland Raiders with Derek Carr.
The elder Carr then went on to highlight one of the off-script plays that he made in 2018. “He still makes a ton of these plays. He goes outside the Xs and Ox a lot and makes successful plays”, he said. “The ones that you can’t make, especially when you’ve lost Le’Veon Bell, your drive train’s a little shaky, you don’t have your supercharger…you’re gonna have to be the field general. You’re gonna have to really tighten it up a little bit. You can’t just slam it and go”.
In truth, what Carr says is not entirely wrong. There are still times where Roethlisberger passes up the safe and the routine while looking for more, or because he missed it. There are decisions that he makes that should certainly be questioned. But he is still one of the best in the game.