The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long offseason ahead of them. Part of that offseason will be final evaluations completed by the coaches as they look ahead to the draft, free agency potentials, and the long term future of this franchise. It’s time to give out some final grades of our own. Let’s just start at the top with the face of this franchise and Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
Ben Roethlisberger had a very good season in 2013 for the Steelers and in comparison to other QB’s around the league. He threw the most passes he’s ever thrown in his career in a single season by 71 passes. He completed almost 65% of his passes, which ranked 7th in the league for QB’s attempting over 300 throws this season. His 4,261 yards are the second highest in his career and 9th in the league. His 28 TD’s are also the second highest in his career. He fell in the top 10 (9th) for INT’s. Roethlisberger was tied for 4th in the league for pass plays going over 20+ yards and tied for 6th with number of plays going over 40 yards – which is pretty surprising considering how dink and dunk/one dimensional this seemed at times. Big Ben was also in the top 10 for sacks (7th) and finished 9th among starters with his QB rating of 92.0. The year of the top 10 I guess. Ho hum, haters. Just another season of stats that beat out the majority of other QB’s in the league.
The Year in Review:The game in Oakland was one of Ben’s worst this season. Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
He struggled early, but who on this team didn’t struggle during their 2-6 record the first half of the season? Much of his struggles were attributed to an offensive line that was decimated and struggled to become a cohesive squad. Todd Haley aslo attributed to Ben’s stuggles in the pocket. The idea was to protect Roethlisberger this season, and part of that plan was to keep Ben in the pocket. That’s not Ben’s style of game, and I strongly feel this affected his psyche – inducing hesitation, holding onto the ball too long, and misreading coverages. Some of his interceptions were costly, and his fumbles were more than frustrating to fans. Whether he got more comfortable with the offense or Haley made adjustments (I’m thinking comfort), Ben settled in and performed much better in the second half of the season. The improvement of the offensive line certainly helped matters. The thing about Roethlisberger is that even when he struggles, he still give the Pittsburgh Steelers the best chance to win week in and week out. His best stretch of football was Weeks 11-14 where he put up at least 2 TD’s per game, no interceptions, and a QB rating of 107.6. Despite going 2-2 during that same stretch, Big Ben proved that he was still a great quarterback and the best one for this football team.
Roethlisberger broke Terry Bradshaw’s franchise career record for touchdowns in Week 14 against the Dolphins. He continued to sling TD’s and eclipsed Bradshaw’s record by six TD’s by season’s end (219). At age 32 at the start of the 2014 season, that number will just continue to climb. He is on pace to be the greatest QB in Steelers’ history (if not already regarded as such).
Roethlisberger got the shaft a little from his teammates when they voted Antonio Brown as Team MVP just before Week 17. He may not have put up the top numbers across the board, but they were pretty close to being Pro Bowl numbers (damn you Phillip Rivers). Let us not forget that if Roethlisberger was not on this team at all this season, they would be looking at a less than four win season.
Ben always gave this team a strong chance to win. He had very solid stats, improved as the year progressed, and reached another career milestone. A better defense, and this team might have been looking at a bye week and a home playoff game.