Will Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger be able to push the football further down the field more in 2021? He certainly needs to be able to as he and the rest of the Steelers offenses struggled mightily in 2020 when it came to doing just that. In fact, there is a stunning statistic that the NFL on CBS Twitter account tweeted out on Wednesday that reflects just how bad Roethlisberger was at being able to get the football down the field in the passing game in 2020.
According to the tweet in question, there have been 27 quarterbacks that have thrown 650 passes since 2019 and when it comes those 27, Roethlisberger is last in yards per attempt with a 6.20 stat.
While that stat from CBS Sports checks out on Pro Football Reference, it is worth noting that Roethlisberger’s stats come basically from the 2020 season as he only played a game and a half in 2019. Also, it’s worth pointing out that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has a stat of 7.10 dating back to 2019 and he’s ranked 19th on the list of 27 quarterbacks.
Roethlisberger’s 2020 season was his first season back after having a serious elbow injury early in the 2019 season that required surgery. While Roethlisberger did return in 2020 to play in 15 regular season games, his deep pass completion percentage in those contests was right at around 30 percent.
Maybe a better stat to use when it comes to Roethlisberger and his lack of ability to push the football down the field consistently in 2020 is the intended air yards that Next Gen Stats tracks. Of the 24 quarterbacks in 2020 that attempted 375 passes or more, Roethlisberger’s intended air yard distance average of 7.1 yards was the second lowest behind just Jared Goff (6.5 yards). Roethlisberger’s average completed air yard distance average of 4.6 yards in 2020 was ranked last of those 24 quarterbacks.
The Steelers have a new offensive coordinator in 2021 in the form of Matt Canada and with Roethlisberger now nearly two full years removed from the date he suffered his serious elbow injury, it will be interesting to see if the veteran quarterback still has what it takes to push the football down the field, not only successfully, but consistently as well.
“I had total reconstruction on my elbow, that might have something to do with it,” Roethlisberger said on Tuesday when asked about his deep passing woes in 2020. “But no excuses. My arm feels great though. I would like to wait to answer that question until we get into more of this season and see how it feels right now. It feels really good. My arm was healed, obviously, I played. It was healthy. But I think anybody that has a big surgery, it almost takes—like that first year back, you are back but are you really back and feeling great? That’s why I want to reserve to answer that question till we get into the season a little bit to let you know how my arm feels compared to last year.”