Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: QB Ben Roethlisberger
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just played arguably one of the worst games of his career, even if the raw numbers don’t necessarily look terrible. The first half in particular was atrocious and back-breaking.
People were already questioning Ben Roethlisberger last week and whether or not he had enough left in the tank to make another playoff run. He has frequently been very critical of his play since the beginning of the season, but that criticism has picked up lately as his play has sagged to justify it even more.
18 of his 38 passes on the night were incomplete, and none of them were dropped. This was the least accurate that we have seen Roethlisberger with the ball in some time, and the problem wasn’t because people were not getting open. He wasn’t throwing a high number of balls away or in the dirt. He did have two passes batted, and thus they were not ‘aimed’, but that only accounts for a small portion of his accuracy problems.
Most concerning, of course, is his accuracy down the field, as he only completed one out of more than a dozen passes that traveled 10 or more yards down the field—which just so happened to be a 23-yard touchdown to Diontae Johnson.
Another concern is that Roethlisberger seems to be struggling with his processing and decision-making. He made a number of poor reads in last night’s game, missing some open receivers and instead throwing to those who were covered. A particularly egregious miss was a triple-coverage pass to Eric Ebron, one which the tight end was injured and had to leave the game, on a pass on which Chase Claypool had broken open over the middle of the field.
Although his play picked up in the second half—significantly, compared to the first—there are serious and fair questions to be asked about where Roethlisberger is right now in terms of his playing career and his playing ability. Although he has played better than he is now, the truth is that the winning earlier in the year buried a lot of issues that are plaguing them today.