When teams play the Pittsburgh Steelers they know they have a differen beast opposite them at the quarterback position. Ben Roethlisberger possesses a skill set unlike many in the league. He isn’t a runner, not the surgical type of quarterback, but brings an elusiveness and creativity to the position rarely seen since he was drafted in 2004.
There used to be a common theme when playing the Steelers, and that was to keep Roethlisberger in the pocket and make him beat you through the conventional methods of throwing the football from the pocket. But as Roethlisberger has matured as both a player and a thrower, this type of thinking has gone out the window.
Roethlisberger can still make plays out of the pocket on the run, but has developed into a very capable pocket passer as well. How defenses approach Roethlisberger has changed immensely since his early years, and that includes what defenses do in the back half of the secondary.
With defensive coordinators wondering if zone coverage, or man coverage, would work better, the statistics say you might want to avoid man-to-man.
This from Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus:
Highest passer rating vs man coverage:— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) October 22, 2018
Ben Roethlisberger 118.3
Jared Goff 117.5
Russell Wilson 110.5
Sam Darnold 107.5
Drew Brees 104.7
Mitch Trubisky 54.5
Derek Carr 62.2
Josh Allen 63.8
Joe Flacco 65.3
Dak Prescott 68.5
Roethlisberger’s stellar passer rating vs. man coverage is something which is notable, but it is also worth noting he can only put the ball into the air — the rest is up to his receivers making plays and beating the man coverage scheme.
With players like Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, one of the more prolific wide receiver duos in the NFL, being able to beat man coverage, it gives Roethlisberger open targets downfield.
Oh, and lets not forget the offensive line giving Roethlisberger plenty of time to throw, and keeping him clean. This is a unit which has surrendered zero sacks and just one quarterback hit in the past two games the team has played. Talk about some remarkable play.
So, what did we learn here? Roethlisberger is feasting on man coverage schemes, but let’s not be naive enough to think it is solely Roethlisberger. It is the entire offense working in unison, and as of late it has been impressive.