One of the big knocks against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stemming from his most recent performance on Monday against the Cincinnati Bengals is the fact that he appeared to miss throwing to an open man down the field on at least a couple of different occasions over the course of the game, instead throwing an incompletion to somebody who was, let’s say, less open.
On both occasions, the man breaking open was rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool, who hasn’t hauled in a deep completion in what feels like a while now, even if he has managed to draw a number of defensive pass interference flags for his efforts. Two plays in particular stand out, one to JuJu Smith-Schuster, and one to Eric Ebron, a play on which the tight end was injured.
Roethlisberger addressed those plays yesterday when talking to the media, essentially saying that Claypool wasn’t open by the time that he moved on in his reads, or even that he was only open after the ball was being thrown.
The one to JuJu when I looked at Chase, he had a guy on him. Within the first 10 yards, there was a guy on him, so I came off of that read. If you look at the picture on the sideline and look at the film, yes, he opened up, but that’s after my eyes came off of a guy that’s got a guy on him. The deep one to Ebron the same thing happened. If you go back and look at it, 30 who is a ballhawk of a safety—he’s a guy who takes chances and does stuff. He’s on Chase until he sees the ball come out of my hand. Chase thought he was open, but when you go back and look at it, you realize the guy was back there to make a play. Could you throw it up and it be 2-on-1 and maybe your guy makes a play? Yeah. You have to take the kind of smart throw there, which I thought was a good one, but looking back at it, you have to realize there, guys come open once the balls come out of your hand a lot.
This explanation won’t sit well with a lot of readers, let alone satisfy them, but nevertheless, sometimes it just happens that way. Every quarterback is going to miss an open man from time to time because they don’t feel they can afford to go back to that read for whatever reason.
But this also goes back to the fact that Roethlisberger is not as willing to extend plays as he has been in the past. Whether it’s concern about taking hits or something else, the lack of that second-effort big play has been felt this year.