Where does Ben Roethlisberger rank among quarterbacks entering the 2020 season? Where do the Pittsburgh Steelers need him to rank, relative to talent, in order for them to have a legitimate shot at contending for a Super Bowl this season?
The majority opinion seems to fall in the camp that the team doesn’t need him to be a superstar and carry the team on his back, now that they have, at least based on last season, one of the best defenses in the league, and one that returns almost every significant part from a year ago.
But you still need good quarterback play. Will they get it from Roethlisberger? Chris Simms seems to think so. He has been ranking the projected starting quarterbacks for the 2020 season, and placed him at 14th yesterday, noting that his injury also reflects his position.
That certainly went into my thinking. It did. Originally, I thought, oh man, I don’t know where Big Ben will be when I started to formulate this list. I had a few lists early on in the process where I had him around 17-17. I’ll tell you what did a big thing for me—some of the social media videos I saw of him throwing, workouts with players. When I saw that, and the way he was throwing, and how aggressively he was throwing and letting it go, I went, ‘alright, Big Ben is gonna be okay’.
He said that another big factor in his ranking has to do with the growth of a number of young quarterbacks, as Roethlisberger was ranked sixth the year before. Players like Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and Kyler Murray probably play a meaningful role in his ranking.
But he was and has been consistently complimentary of Roethlisberger, calling him “one of the greatest deep-ball throwers in the history of football”, and noting that “Big Ben is still fearless in the pocket”, even as he approaches 40 years old.
He is, of course, returning from serious elbow surgery, which cost him almost all of the 2019 season. The year before, he threw for over 5000 yards and tossed 34 touchdowns, both of them marking new career highs and franchise records.
Simms discussed his development from an improvisational player to somebody who can rely more on his mind to make things happen as he has gotten older, but “when nothing is there, he still makes a lot of big plays for that offense”.
He is also comfortable with his total body of work in his later years, believing that his past several full seasons show that he can continue to be effective. What is more in question is whether or not he will have the supporting cast to maximize what he has left in the tank for perhaps a final championship run.