There have been plenty of opinions about the ability of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger following the 2020 NFL season. Now that it appears both the Steelers and Roethlisberger are moving towards making his contract work for the 2021 season, even more opinions in regards to the Steelers’ quarterbacks on-field play have been fast and furious.
Some of these opinions have been valid points. Some of them have just been awful takes. For example, here is one which calls Steelers’ team president Art Rooney II a “liar” about Roethlisberger. You can judge for yourself:
It appears the #Steelers are now openly lying about what's left of Ben Roethlisberger's ability as a QB.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 26, 2021
Team president Art Rooney II: "His arm, I would say, is as strong or almost as strong as ever."
Ben had a career low 6.3 yards per attempt in 2020.pic.twitter.com/AIvPyG8j23
I pointed it out on the BTSC Twitter page the flaw in the above analysis. Trying to say Roethlisberger doesn’t have any arm strength based on this throw is both ridiculous and unfair. For anyone paying attention, it was obviously a miscommunication between Roethlisberger and wide receiver Diontae Johnson as to exactly when he should break out to the sidelines in his route. The fact that the ball was thrown short wasn’t because Roethlisberger couldn’t make the throw as he had other throws much farther downfield than this throughout this particular game.
Ah yes. Let’s find a play where the QB and WR are obviously not on the same page as he thought the WR should break out much sooner based on the defender. Let’s now try to make a completely different point out of the play and make a blanket statement in regards to the future ♂️— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) February 26, 2021
As for the statistic of Roethlisberger having a career-low 6.3 yards per attempt this past season, there are many factors which could have been the explanation for the number. While it very well could have been arm strength, it could have also been offensive scheme/philosophy, the look the defense was giving, or struggles on the offensive line. Although it could have been one or a combination of any of these factors, laying it all on one issue in which we have limited inside knowledge is exactly the problem when it comes to this type of analysis.
In my closing thoughts of the Steelers Preview podcast on Thursday night, I reminded our listeners that, although many are well-informed and have valid opinions, we generally don’t have more than 60% of the information in order to come to a full conclusion on many issues dealing with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Imagine you were eating at a restaurant and have a food allergy. You ask what the ingredients are in one particular, complicated dish. Who are you going to trust more to answer, the waiter or the chef? It’s not that the waiter can’t give a correct answer, but the chef has much more of the detailed information.
What do I mean by this? Let’s take the example of the Steelers throwing the ball down the field towards the end of 2020. Exactly why was it the short passing game the Steelers were going to all the time? It could have been because of earlier success, lack of confidence in the deep ball, lack of time to throw the ball, inept playcalling/scheme, or any other of a number of factors.
The “why” of the matter is ultimately what we don’t have all the information about when it comes to this decision. Do you know who does have all the information? The Pittsburgh Steelers. They know why they chose to do these things, and if these things were not the right way to go they have the best answer in order to fix them. The fact the Steelers are wanting to bring back Ben Roethlisberger but chose to move on from their offensive coordinator could be an indication. Additionally, how much the Steelers invest in the offensive line during free agency and the 2021 NFL draft will also be another telling sign.
The bottom line is, we may think Ben Roethlisberger can or can’t do certain things anymore. But is it all on Roethlisberger? Are there other factors? While we can speculate, that is merely the best we can do.
Many of us think that we have all the answers in order to fix the Pittsburgh Steelers for 2021. Frankly, we can’t have all those answers because we don’t even know all of the information to be able to implement the proper fixes. Of course there are things that are obvious such as the Steelers completely inept rushing attack. When looking at other intricacies such as personal usage in certain passing packages or even the Steelers use of a full back, we don’t have all the knowns and must fill in the rest with what we have as our best estimate.
Ben Roethlisberger is not a perfect quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger is not the quarterback he was 10 years ago. Ben Roethlisberger is also not a quarterback who can’t throw the ball more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Beware of those who find Roethlisberger's infallible. Also beware of those who find Roethlisberger disastrous. Those who have assessments on the extreme ends of the spectrum are likely filling in the unknowns unfairly.
Trust the assessment of the franchise who has all the information that they are making the best decision. If all the problems down the stretch for the Steelers last year were the fault of Ben Roethlisberger, those who have all the information would not have decided they want him back for another season.