2014 Steelers season scenarios: Ben Roethlisberger breaks franchise record for passing yards in a season

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Roethlisberger's passing total may only be affected by the success of the Steelers' running game. But it's still fully possible Roethlisberger tops 4,000 yards for the fourth time in his career.

Read all of BTSC's 32 Scenarios in 32 Days in our Hub

Scenario: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger breaks his own franchise record with more than 4,328 passing yards.

Why it will happen: Roethlisberger will have more control over his passing totals this year than he has in the past. The Steelers will run more no-huddle this year due to a combination of the team's trust in its franchise passer and more importantly, trust in the rest of the offense to keep up. Injuries have decimated this team's offensive line over the last few seasons, ruining any semblance of continuity - a key factor in running a no-huddle.

Roethlisberger will also have the benefit of an outstanding pass-catching running back and a fully healthy primary tight end. Le'Veon Bell missed the first three games of the 2013 season but caught 45 passes on 66 targets. Projecting that over 16 games, that's 55 catches on 88 targets. It'll probably be even higher than that, considering Bell's arc of progression scales upward quite a bit by the end of the year. Miller missed Week 1, and played probably closer to 80 percent than 100 for the majority of the season. With a less-than-adequate second tight end for more than two-thirds of the season, Miller had to shoulder the load in terms of in-line blocking. The return of Matt Spaeth - a better all-around blocker than Miller is - will help Miller's catch and target totals because he'll be able to gain priority targets more frequently.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is coming off one of the best individual receiving seasons in team history, and he is only improving. It'll be difficult for him to improve on a 110-catch, 1,499-yard year - extremely difficult, in fact. The increased total of targets likely to go to Bell and MIller may detract from his stats a bit, but he'll make it up with big-play ability as well as an increase in targets of his own. He had 10 or more targets nine times on the season, and the Steelers were 6-3 when Brown had 10 or more targets.

Why it won't happen: Bell's selection in the second round last year and the signing of LeGarrette Blount this offseason is suggestive of a run-first mentality. While Roethlisberger has control in the no-huddle, running the ball in that will still be an option. In fact, it's easier to run the no-huddle after a running play than a passing play, considering odds are outstanding the clock will continue running after a run. Teams can sub out quickly when the clock stops on an incomplete pass.

The stronger emphasis on running the ball will take attempts away from Roethlisberger, thus, limiting the amount of yards he'll have the opportunity to gain through the air. Brown will still be utilized in the team's wide running philosophy - quick throws to Brown when the presnap read reveals single off-man coverage. The balanced approach of this offense may simply reduce his pass attempts. Ben's highest output was in 2009, when the team finished 9-7. His second-highest is 4,261, which came in 2013, another playoff-less season. Third highest was 4,077, when the team qualified for the post-season but injuries largely wore Ben down, and made him a shell of himself in a playoff loss at Denver.

History shows Ben throwing for more yards equals fewer wins.

Keys: This will all come down to how well the Steelers can establish the run. That's a double-edged sword, though. If the Steelers run well, they can increase their ridiculously low play-action percentage from a year ago (11 percent of the team's passes came off play-action in 2013). That will set up more opportune deep-passing looks. It will also require a commitment not just to running the ball, but running it successfully. The team ran the ball 394 times last year, a product of both an ineffective level of success and a lack of ability for the bulk of the season.

It seems more likely the Steelers will see a large increase in their yards per play and scoring as an offense as opposed to their passing yards, but the passing game worked to a high degree over the second half of last season, and the extra experience will make them better this season.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Behind the Steel Curtain

You must be a member of Behind the Steel Curtain to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Behind the Steel Curtain. You should read them.

Join Behind the Steel Curtain

You must be a member of Behind the Steel Curtain to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Behind the Steel Curtain. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker