There’s no question over the last ten years, Ben Roethlisberger’s gotten slower, less mobile, not the Backyard Ben style he showed off some regularly. But it’s not all bad. Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show, Roethlisberger was asked what he does better now than he did back in 2011.
“Probably read a defense,” he said. “Back then, it was just, use your athleticism, make people hang off you. I think you have to grow in that area.”
In his early days and prime of his career and before it was en vogue, Roethlisberger could make play outside the pocket and structure of the play with the best of them. Some of his greatest moments involve him improvising, shaking off a defender, running around, pump-faking until the defense was dizzy, and firing the ball to a receiver downfield.
But that’s a path of success that lasts for only so long. When you get older, when the knees don’t feel quite as good, you have to change. With the help of coaches like Todd Haley, Roethlisberger did. His sack numbers went way down, his efficiency way up, and he became something closer to a pure-pocket passer with as quick of a release as anyone. His overall football IQ also shot up and allowed him to put together some of his best seasons. In 2014, he threw for nearly 5000 yards with 32 touchdowns to just nine interceptions.
Beyond the on-field product, Roethlisberger noted he’s a much better teammate than he used to be.
“Understanding my teammates and men and trying to be a better leader, I think there’s ways, and I’ve learned this through many years of play, there’s ways to motivate, to talk to different guys. And each guy is different. Not like you just go talk to linemen the same and receivers the same. Literally, if want to be a great leader of men or of a football team, you have to learn how to speak to each person and what motivates each person. I take pride in trying to know how to do that, how to pull a guy aside. Some guys, you just give them a look. I take pride in trying and leading, football players and men.”
Roethlisberger has become the elder statesman of the Steelers, the only one who has a Super Bowl ring won as a member of the Steelers. That’s a big transition from his first few seasons in the league, the brash rookie thrust into a veteran-led team. One that just needed Roethlisberger to avoid making the big mistake. His role has certainly evolved over time. On and off the field, the Steelers needed a guy like Roethlisberger to grow and it’s one reason why he’s set to become a Hall of Famer five years after retirement.
Check out the full conversation between Patrick and Roethlisberger below.