Most teams typically have more questions than answers this time of year, and the Steelers are no different. At the top of our list lies the question of how Big Ben will respond to a disappointing year in 2006. No need to rehash what happened last summer and fall for Big Ben. We all know what happened.
Can Roethlisberger bounce back though and avoid making a high volume of costly mistakes in 2007? I sure hope so, but there may be issues with our pass protection at times this year, meaning there will be ample opportunities for Ben to hold on to the ball too long, be careless with the football, or throw into tight coverage. Hopefully new offensive coordinator's Bruce Arians play-calling will help keep Big Ben out of too much danger in the pocket and he'll be able to make quick throws to one of the three, four or five wideouts that we can expect to see in most of Arians' sets.
Of course, anytime you project a QBs production, you have to consider that it is subject to a number of factors. We know Hines is going to catch 70-90 balls if he's healthy, no matter who is playing QB. But, Big Ben's stats are contingent on how our running game is, and perhaps more importantly, how our defense is playing. If we're in high-scoring shoot-outs, Ben could put up some monster numbers. Most of us though would prefer for his numbers to be less inflated because we're trying to protect leads most week.
Anyway, it's a big year for Roethlisberger. This is his first opportunity to bounce back from adversity - you'd be hard pressed to find much tough luck during his first two years in the league.
My 2007 projections:
269 Completions, 430 Attempts, 62.5 %, 3200 yards, 23 TDs, 14 INTs
I will admit that I have arrived at those numbers somewhat arbitrarily. I do think that Big Ben's attempts and completions should go down a bit from a year ago - we just threw the ball way too damn much last year. I think we can expect his percentage to get back above 60% this year (it dipped below last year), and I think we can expect his INTs to go down - at least they better!
Chime in. What do you see Roeth doing this year?