When I watch Ben play I am filled with anxiety, excitement, frustration, and so on. Being a Steeler fan is an emotional roller coaster mostly because we as Steeler fans see the success and failures each play, each game, each generation and we can go from losing seasons to Superbowl contenders, back to losing seasons, then to Superbowl champs. I personally prefer it this way and this is why I wouldn't trade Ben for the world.
Lets talk about Ben's shortcomings as a QB first. There really isn't anything he can't do but he doesn't necessarily do everything at an elite level. Reading defenses can be argued is potentially one of his weak points although as he has entered his prime he is a bit better at it. I say it's a weak point mostly due to the fact that we don't see him make a multitude of adjustments at the line like some of those top end QB's such as Rodgers, Brady, Peyton (no one is at Peyton's level) and maybe a Brees. That's not really his game and hasn't been his game. He also hold's onto the ball a little long but I have to say that is a bit of an asset in certain terms rather than a shortcoming.
One major negative I see as far as the type of throws he makes and basically seems to suck at is throws to the flat. He doesn't hide it very well maybe due to his stature and those are usually plays that are specifically designed with no checkdowns. This type of play ties into reading defenses and holding on to the ball. Defenses tend to key in on this it seems more than we care to admit and a lot of that is based on his faith in our receivers to make plays. He could also be a little better at dumpoffs but with work under Haley's offense I'm sure he will get better at it.Mike Wallace where Ben throws up a prayer down field while we have a multitude of player wide open in the middle of the field. This is pretty detrimental and pretty typical of his play when he feels we need a big play to get back into it. Last year he started off well because our whole offense was firing off on all cylinders. He spread the ball around very well and we were rarely in panic mode. The end of the season came around and we were in crunch time. Because of that he tried to carry the team on his back (which isn't bad) but he was zeroing in on players and was ignoring some of his checkdowns that he had been hitting earlier in the year. To be fair there were a multitude of problems that happened toward then end of last season that affected the team as a whole but I am not writing about the rest of the team, I am just giving a small evaluation of Big Ben.
Well this is hard to write because there are so many. He sells the playaction better than most and its even more effective when our running game is more effective. His ability to extend plays, although may come out of necessity from a lack of solid OL protection, is the best in the business and is a huge asset in itself. He is a good passer but likely not considered great, yet he still has those games that shows his ability to be great when needed. He is a competitor in the words of Tomlin, and will put it on himself to win games when we need him to. Even after all the bumps and bruises he is still a very mobile QB for his size and style that commands respect. He likely has the best pocket presence in the league and his toughness shows when maintaining composure. What seperates him from most all the QBs in the league is he can do everything we would ask of him: stand in the pocket, scramble out, deliver deep, mid, and short throws, as well as run for the occasional first down. He sells trick plays as if he didn't know they were coming. He motivates his offense and he accepts the challenge when the defense has its occasional bad game. Finally he is the perfect fit for the Steelers in this era. He is the perfect combination of the tough blue collar player we love and the evolved game that the NFL has come to be. He could play in any era and be successful.
PERFECT FOR STEELERS
It is not a coincidence that he won a superbowl his second year in the league and then went back to win another one a few years later as well as appear in a third even further down the road. Why because he isn't the fast scoring machine type QB that keeps the defense on the field. If he was that gunslinger type QB every game a lot of things might have been different. The faster you run up the score the more the opposing team is required to take chances and fire off high risk high reward passes on a defense that is best suited to get pressure on the QB and stuff the run. If our defense struggles to get QB pressure and Ben is just keeping them on the field then that high reward passing from the opposing team has less risk due to fatigue. I think he was the perfect fit for that reason, and it isn't like he can't fill that role when we need him to but we have all seen many teams lose a lot that are high scoring teams (Lions, Texans, Falcons and even some previous superbowl champs that cant get back into the mix like New Orleans, Packers last year, and Patriots). So he is exceptional at managing games and stepping up when we need him which is how we got to the playoffs his rookie year and won the Super Bowl his second year. The Second Super Bowl we won was a true display on his developing skill and the fact that he went to a third one is even more of a testament to his progress and skill as a player. I firmly believe that he may not ever be considered the best QB in the league at any given point in time but as a whole he is top five of QBs currently playing. With Brady, Peyton, and maybe Rodgers ahead of him as well as Eli, Flacco and Brees coming close. Flacco still has much more to prove though and has been surrounded with a more complete offense and offensive line.