Ben Roethlisberger: FanSided power ranks Steelers QB middle of the pack
By Peter Panacy
Ben Roethlisberger’s days of being a top-five quarterback may be over, but FanSided’s rankings suggest some Steelers offensive changes will help.
There are going to be those who continue criticizing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for hanging around a bit too long when it’s noticeably clear he’s not the same signal-caller he once was during the heyday of his career.
At 39 years old, that’s certainly a fair assessment. The future Hall of Famer is well beyond the point where only a handful of quarterbacks keep at it, and you can essentially name those players on one hand.
Yes, there are some concerns about whether or not Big Ben will be anywhere near as effective as he needs to be in 2021, especially with Pittsburgh’s offensive line about as shaky as it has been in years. Even if this unit was formidable enough, will Roethlisberger’s arm strength be there?
It certainly didn’t appear to be that way over the last two years, as his yards-per-attempt average fell well below the 7.7 mark he’s had over his storied career, recording 4.9 and 6.6 yards in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
But some tweaks to the Steelers offense under first-year coordinator Matt Canada could make things a bit easier for Roethisberger in 2021.
And that’s what FanSided’s pre-Week 1 quarterbacking power rankings call out.
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FanSided puts Ben Roethlisberger in middle of NFL power rankings pack
FanSided’s NFL insider Matt Verderame just put together his regular-season kickoff quarterback power rankings ahead of Week 1, and Roethlisberger finds himself squarely in the middle of all starters entering this season.
At 16th, to be precise.
As for the placement, Roethlisberger’s future and how Canada might tweak Pittsburgh’s offense, Verderame argued the following:
"This could be it for Roethlisberger. Last year, his arm showed considerable wear, making deeper throws between the numbers virtually impossible. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada wants to throw quick, use motion and ride the legs of rookie running back Najee Harris. Don’t expect Big Ben’s YPA to climb."
Focusing more on the Steelers’ rushing attack, especially with Harris in the fray, would be an excellent start. And there have been plenty of veteran quarterbacks over the years who have relied almost entirely on short passes that travel distances of no more than 5 yards.
In that way, dinking and dunking down the field can almost be an extension of the ground game, especially with high-percentage tosses on screens, bubbles and quick slants.
This should also help negate some of the concerns Roethlisberger and the Steelers have with a suspect O-line, and getting the ball out sooner than some of those many five- and seven-step drops the quarterback took earlier in his career should help matters, too.
Perhaps the only remaining worry, aside from the ever-present injury factor, is whether or not Roethlisberger’s accuracy takes a dip in tandem with his arm strength.
If it’s on point, then there isn’t much of a concern.
But the only way to get a true evaluation early on will be to see how Roethlisberger performs when Pittsburg’s regular-season kicks off in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills and their high-profile defense.