If there is one area on the whole in which Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been lacking so far this season, it has been the deep passing game. Part of that is because he is just not throwing the ball deep very often at all, but part of it has also been simple performance issues.
Nobody has been a harsher critic on his play than Roethlisberger himself. Even after one of his better games the week before last, when asked to assess his performance, he points to his struggles in connecting on the deep passing game and citing that as an area that has to improve.
He did improve upon that this past week. Though he only attempted three deep passes of 20 air yards or more, he completed all three of them, and two of them went to third-year wide receiver James Washington, one for 27 yards and one for 28, one for a score. He also connected with Chase Claypool on one deep pass.
The former spoke to the media yesterday after catching four passes against the Cleveland Browns for 68 yards and his second touchdown of the season, and when he was asked if he felt as though Roethlisberger’s deep passing was coming around, he said, “for sure”.
“I feel like a lot of that is just us getting on the same page, chemistry, knowing where we’re going to be at certain times, and the type of trajectory for each receiver or whoever he’s throwing the ball to”, he told reporters, via a video of the interview provided to us by the team’s media department. “It’s just all different for different guys, and he’s definitely getting that ready for us”.
On the season, Roethlisberger has now completed seven passes on 21 deep ball attempts with four touchdowns to one interception for 266 yards and a quarterback rating of 101.7. He has attempted a deep pass on 12.7 percent of his pass attempts so far this season, which actually ranks 13th among qualifying quarterbacks.
Looking back at the 2018 season, Roethlisberger’s ratio of deep pass attempts was nearly identical at 12.9 percent, attempting 87 deep passes on 675 total pass attempts. He completed 30 of those attempts for 1100 yards with 15 touchdowns to two interceptions.
His 30 deep completions ranked sixth in the NFL, while his 1100 deep passing yards ranked third, and he was tied for the most deep passing touchdowns with Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes at 15. He also had the sixth-highest passer rating on deep pass attempts, but ranked a dismal 28th in adjusted completion percentage.