Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger only attempted 62 passes during the 2019 season—that was about literally all that his elbow could handle by the time he fully severed three tendons in his throwing elbow by halftime of the second game of the year.
That was coming off a year in which he attempted 675 passes, which was not only a career-high and the most in the league in 2018, but also the fourth-most pass attempts in a single season in NFL history. And he is on pace to throw for over 600 attempts again in 2020, which would mark just the third time in his career that he has done so.
Do the Steelers have any concerns regarding the number of times he is throwing the ball per game, coming off of major elbow surgery? Right now, he is attempting 38 passes per game, which is tied for the third-highest percentage in his career, and his pass attempts have been trending upward of late.
“I would worry more about the opportunities on the rest of his body, taking hits”, said offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, via transcript of his conversation with the media earlier today provided by the team’s media department. “We try and minimize that as much as possible. I know that in games, the flow of games are going to either add to that or lessen that based on how efficiently we are running the ball or just the general how the flow of the game is going”.
“Ben has been awfully good protecting the football”, he added. “He’s felt pretty confident in his pocket movement and his ability to protect himself. He gets the ball out really quickly and has been making pretty good decisions. If I worry about anything, I don’t know that I worry about the arm. I think it’s well. I would worry about the amount of possible hits he could take”.
That is, of course, exactly what you would want to hear about your franchise quarterback in his first season after having the elbow in his throwing arm rebuilt. And equally importantly, he has been performing at a high level, completing over 67 percent of his passes for 2534 yards with 24 touchdowns to just five interceptions, averaging 7.3 adjusted yards per pass attempt. Importantly, he has only taken 10 sacks all season, tied for the fewest of any starter in the league this season.
Roethlisberger might not be getting the sort of media attention that most ‘name’ quarterback would be getting if they had their team at 10-0 and were putting up the numbers that he is, but the Steelers are not overly concerned about such things. As long as he is upright with a functioning arm and slinging them to victory, they couldn’t care less what anybody outside the locker room has to say.