Statistically speaking, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is coming off of his best game of the season. While he could have been more efficient, completing 27 of 46 pass attempts, he threw for season highs of 333 yards and four touchdowns, while throwing no interceptions and taking no sacks. He is now on pace to reset his own franchise record for touchdown passes in a season while posting his lowest interception rate of his career.
The performance was enough to earn him his first AFC Offensive Player of the Week Award for the 2020 season, and the 16th of his career. And as we move deeper into the second half of the season, one gets the sense that we will start to hear his name mentioned more in the discussion for the MVP race.
Speaking to reporters earlier today, Roethlisberger was reflective but humbled by the award. “Any award you can win is an honor”, he said. “The honor shouldn’t be presented to just me. It should go to our whole offense because I’m just the facilitator”.
“The line are the ones that block for me that give me the time”, he added, as the perpetual spokesperson for offensive line play, and distributor of gifts. “I just get the ball out of my hands as fast as I can and let the playmakers make plays. Really, that’s an award for this whole offense in my opinion”.
Roethlisberger is actually getting the ball out of his hands at a bonkers rate. Pro Football Focus began tracking time-to-throw data beginning in 2011, and at 2.16 seconds per play from snap to throw, it is the fastest release that the site has ever tracked among qualified quarterbacks by .05 seconds. In many years, it is better than the best time by about two tenths of a second.
Of course, you can’t have a quick-release offense unless you have an arsenal of weapons capable of getting themselves open in a timely manner and having that sort of rhythm and rapport that facilitates the timing necessary.
A perfect example of this would be the touchdown pass that he threw to wide receiver Diontae Johnson on Sunday. The ball was very nearly in his chest by the time that he turned his head around at the one-yard line, but he knew that it would be there, and he calmly corralled it for the score.
Having an offensive line that is in sync and in rhythm, and a bevy of skill position players who are on the same page and understand your tendencies, is what leads to a ‘facilitator’ being able to perform at such a high level as Roethlisberger is this season. From that perspective, at least, he is right about this being a team award.