The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: What sort of statistics would Ben Roethlisberger have to put up to be a legitimate contender for the league MVP?
While it’s not a universally held opinion, almost everybody of relevance agrees that Ben Roethlisberger is a Hall of Fame quarterback, and at the least a large sub-section of that group also believes that he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. With that said, he has never had that one period of his career, or that one season, in which he was seen as the best, or at least one of the very, very best.
One of the clearest ways to demonstrate that, though it’s not a necessity (Drew Brees has never won one), is by winning an MVP award. Roethlisberger put up one of his best seasons statistically last season with new franchise records in passing yards (5129) and touchdowns (34), but it wasn’t even enough to get him into the Pro Bowl, juxtaposed against his 16 interceptions and failure to reach the postseason.
Last year, Patrick Mahomes threw for 5097 yards with 50 touchdowns to 12 interceptions to claim the MVP award. In 2017, though, Tom Brady threw for 4577 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions, which shows that you don’t necessarily have to put up easy-mode video game numbers to win it all.
This question is inherently difficult to answer because an MVP award is a relative one. It’s entirely contingent upon what everybody else does in a given year, which is going to vary, potentially rather significantly, every year. But obviously it’s usually going to a quarterback, and typically one who throws for a lot of yards and touchdowns while winning games and protecting the football.
Realistically, I could see a 4500-yard season with between 35 and 40 touchdowns and 10 or fewer interceptions putting him in the ballpark this year, provided that the Steelers manage to finish at least within the top three seeds of the AFC.