Ben Roethlisberger: Keeping Things in Perspective

Scott BrownCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers points against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

I read an article on Bleacher Report last week that struck me as more than a little odd.  The author was attempting to make the argument that Big Ben was going to be the ticket to the Hall of Fame for several other key Steeler's football players. 

The inference being made was that without Ben Roethlisberger, players like Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, and Santanio Holmes might never make it into the Hall.

I attempted to digest what I had just read, but try as I might, I just couldn't see validity in what the author was trying say.  Nothing about Big Ben's play as an NFL Quarterback leads me to believe that the Steelers caught lightening in a bottle when they selected him.  

As far as I can tell, the Steelers got exactly what they where looking for when they drafted Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.  A quarterback who could hand the ball off to their high powered running game and manage the offense so that they don't lose the game for the defense.

In fact, I would even go one step further and suggest that the single greatest play that would define Ben Roethlisberger to this point in his career had absolutely nothing to do with him even throwing the ball.  I am talking about the shoe-string tackle that he made in 2005 to bring Nick Harper down, preventing a surefire TD in the process. 

I would certainly suggest that Big Ben is more than capable of playing QB in the NFL.  He has the tools and he has grown into a much more effective QB than the rookie that went 13-0 handing the ball off to Jerome Bettis in 2004. 

My argument is just that the Steelers commitment to stout defense and hard nosed running are likely to put Ben Roethlisberger into the Hall of Fame and not the other way around.  

Still think I am just hating on Big Ben, don't take my word for it, crack open the statistics which are there for all to see.


Year              Rushing Offense      Passing Offense     Total Defense         Record

2004                    #2                             #28                          #1                          15-1

2005                    #5                             #24                          #4                            11-5

2006                    #10                             #9                          #11                          8-8

2007                    #3                              #22                         #2                             10-6

2008                    #23                            #17                          #1                          12-4


Immediately, two things jump right off the list.  First it shows the Steelers consistently have one of the top defenses and running games in the league.  I don't think that was a secret to anyone who follows the NFL closely. 

The second is that they have had one of the worst passing offenses in the league just about every year since Ben Roethlisberger was drafted.  I know he managed to crack the top 10 in 2006 but interestingly enough, that is also the only year they didn't make it to the playoffs.  To me that speaks volumes about Big Ben's ability to carry his team.

Also of interest from this list is the 2008 season.  That season the offense as a whole was not very good, they had a poor running game and a middle-of-the-pack passing game but the defense was out of this world good. 

The measure of a defense in the NFL is total yards allowed and the Steelers gave up almost a 1000 yards less than the next best team.  On average that is 62.5 yards/game versus the next best defense.

I wanted some other measure to try and gauge the impact of Big Ben to his particular team.  I basically worked off the assumption that the more points the opposition scores the more important the offense of your own team becomes. 

The theory being that if your QB wins a game in which he had to overcome 30 points being scored by the other team, that should count for more than a QB who wins a game where the other offense only scored 10 points.  For this experiment, I drew the line at 15 points.

I wanted to see the QB record in games where the opposition scored more than twice.

Big Ben was 20-23 in games where the other team scored more than 15 points.  The means despite going 7-1 in that situation in his rookie season Big Ben has won the game for his team 46 percent of the time when the defense has given up more than two scores. 

If you remove the 7-1 from his rookie season that means that in the four years since he has only won 37 percent of the games in those situations.

Strictly to compare Big Ben's numbers with some other QB's around the league since 2004,

Peyton Manning has won 72 percent of the games played where the opposition scores more than 15 points. 

Tom Brady has a 25-11 record in those games, winning 69 percent of the time that the opposing team scores more than twice.

To me that demonstrates how Manning and Brady are are able to keep their teams in the game no matter what.  Big Ben relies on the other facets of the Steelers game to succeed and his 2006 stats and record when his defense struggles clearly show that to be true.

I believe that long after Big Ben retires he will get the call to Canton, OH.  Being the QB of two Super Bowl winning teams and being able to maintain his career winning percentage should all but assure him of that. 

I just believe at that ceremony it will be Big Ben thanking the likes of Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and Willie Parker, and not the other way around.