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: Up
Reasoning: After playing a pretty lousy first half, Ben Roethlisberger played one of his better halves of ball in the final 30 minutes yesterday, leading the team to three straight scoring drives—and the drive before that would have been a touchdown too if not for a dropped pass.
A good chunk of Ben Roethlisberger’s first-half production was basically garbage-time yards, picking up 41 passing yards on a 14-second drive at the end of the second quarter in which they didn’t even attempt a field goal.
Then he threw 23-for-29 for 243 yards and three touchdowns over five meaningful drives in the second half, finding Diontae Johnson for a 39-yard jump-starter on a deep ball, then hitting Eric Ebron for a short score, and finally using a nasty pump fake to freeze the safety and nailing the game-winner to JuJu Smith-Schuster from 25 yards out.
It was not perfect, however. There were still some dangerous passes and head scratchers in the second half. Overall, Roethlisberger probably threw three of our passes that could have been intercepted, and had another ball batted down, yet the Steelers escaped the day without a turnover.
But he played well enough for the Steelers to win games, and that’s what they have to hope he is going to play like moving forward, because that is not how he had been playing in recent weeks. He needs to stop putting the ball in harm’s way and get more comfortable and accurate on the intermediate and deep throws, but this game, or at least the second half, was a positive sign in the right direction.
With three touchdowns, meanwhile, he is one more passing score away from tying his own franchise record. He is 196 yards shy of hitting 4000 yards for the seventh time in his career. Assuming that he plays in the finale, both of these marks are very much in striking distance. He has at least one touchdown pass in every game this season, and at least two in 12 games.