Now that the regular season has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: QB Ben Roethlisberger
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The 39-year-old quarterback played his best game of the season so far, with a 120.9 quarterback rating, though both he and his receivers left some plays on the field.
The Steelers have begun each of their past two games with a 50-plus-yard deep connection for a touchdown between Roethlisberger and wide receiver Diontae Johnson, so, hard to complain about that. Only this time, the offense actually continued to play well after that initial drive.
Roethlisberger only completed 60 percent of his passes, going 15 for 25, though he did deal with a couple of drops or certainly balls that should have been caught, from Benny Snell, Cody White, and Chase Claypool, just off the top of my head. But he also threw two passes that could have been intercepted, and fortunately were not, including one tipped at the line that forced Ray-Ray McCloud to turn into a defensive back covering a defensive lineman.
But the most important development in this game is the fact that Roethlisberger not only pushed the ball down the field more, but also connected more, shown in his improved intended air yards and completed air yards numbers. It’s also clearly reflected in his more traditional yards per pass attempt, averaging 10.1 yards per attempt with 253 passing yards on 25 attempts.
I don’t think that anybody is going to mistake Roethlisberger for a top-five elite quarterback ever again at this stage, but he showed yesterday that he can still win games and make big plays when the offense needs him to.
Just give him a competent run game and a solid, play-making defense, and the Steelers can work out a winning recipe with the quarterback who was on the field yesterday, plain and simple. They still have some kinks to work out, but if they can play at least on this level, then the potential is there for this season to be salvaged.