Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is entering his 16th season in the NFL. He has led the NFL in passing twice in his career, most recently in 2018, when he joined the 5000-yard club. He also threw a career-high, and franchise-record, 34 touchdown passes a year ago. That didn’t even garner him a Pro Bowl nod.
If he is able to put up comparable numbers again, and do so in the absence of wide receiver Antonio Brown—and to a lesser extent Le’Veon Bell, who did not report already last season—then there are those who believe that he will be among the favorites to win the first MVP award of his career, because of that story and background.
That was the subject of a recent debate on Good Morning Football, in which the panelists decided who would be more likely to win their first MVP award between Roethlisberger and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, who has thrown for more yards than anybody ever, and who should pass Peyton Manning in touchdowns this season.
“The only thing that’s stronger than performance for MVP is a story”, one panelist said. “Ben’s got the story of like, ‘look what I did. Antonio left. Le’Veon left. I lost two of the greatest Steelers ever’”. He did add that he felt Brees would put up better number with the talent he has in Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
“I think this is the most intriguing season for Ben Roethlisberger since he was like a second-year guy”, he continued. “This is his show, his deal. The rockstars are gone, now win. I can’t wait to watch the Steelers”.
Talents like Brown and Bell don’t frequently change teams in their prime the way the Steelers have seen a pair of first-team All-Pros leave house in one offseason, that much is true. With that said, they do have players at those two positions who already rose to the level of the Pro Bowl in 2018 in JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner, so the talent Roethlisberger has to work with shouldn’t be undersold.
It is an interesting discussion, though. Is he, now at 37, in the discussion for a potential MVP run in 2019? He has never come particularly close to placing before, though he has had his name in the discussion at mid-season a time or two, at least once sabotaged by injury.
Of course, Roethlisberger potentially winning an MVP award only means anything insofar as it indicates that the offense has been doing well. When your quarterback is valuable, you are probably finding success.
Roethlisberger’s 34 touchdowns might be the most in franchise history, but it’s far from historic. In fact, it’s only tied for the 43rd-most ever. 30 of the 42 ahead of him all came in this millennium, as well, so it’s only becoming more and more commonplace to hit those numbers.