The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the fortunate NFL franchises that’s retained the services of a franchise quarterback since 2004. Other teams, like the Cleveland Browns for example, would kill to have a QB as the rock of their franchise for that many years.
But that doesn’t mean Ben Roethlisberger’s game is complete or perfect. Roethlisberger’s interceptions have always been a talking point, but one facet of his game which certainly has been under the microscope the past few years has been the difference in his play at Heinz Field vs. on the road.
To put it mildly, Ben doesn’t travel well.
Check out the numbers per Pro Football Focus (PFF):
Looking at the last 2 seasons, Big Ben has certainly performed better at Heinz Field.— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) August 6, 2018
Home PFF Grade: 85.9
Away PFF Grade: 64.9
Home PFF Grade: 87.0
Away PFF Grade: 79.7
His passer rating has also been higher at home both seasons. https://t.co/sXa74Tjv2b
While 2017 was a step up from 2016, you still have to wonder why there’s been a drop-off in production from year to year away from home. Sure, at home you have the luxury of a relatively quiet home crowd during Steelers’ possessions, improved ability to call audibles at the line of scrimmage, plus the comfort of playing on your home field.
Nonetheless, for a 15-year veteran in the league, you’d expect those home vs. away numbers to be closer to even. And this isn’t about PFF’s grading system. If you looked at Roethlisberger’s average passer rating at home vs. on the road the past two seasons, you’d find a discrepancy there too.
In 2016, Roethlisberger’s average passer rating at Heinz Field was 113.6. Compare that to his average rating away from home, which was 81.3. In 2017, Roethlisberger’s average passer rating at home was 98.8, compared to his road average of 92.3.
Just use the eyeball test. Roethlisberger hasn’t looked as comfortable on the road during the past few seasons, and his play — along with his statistical averages — reflects that.
Many are talking about the Steelers’ defense, and how the unit will be the ultimate deciding factor in the success or failure of the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers. But a case could also be made for the factor of Roethlisberger’s consistency from week to week — regardless of which stadium they’re playing in any given week.