With the Pittsburgh Steelers making the decision for Ben Roethlisberger to continue as their quarterback for the 2021 season, a lot of speculation has come out as to what exactly he can do in order to get the Steelers to the next level in 2021. Choices such as “win more games” or “bring home the seventh Lombardi” are obvious. But what does Roethlisberger need to do in order to get there?
Before answering the questions, there are a lot of things the Pittsburgh Steelers can do for success beyond Ben Roethlisberger. First, the Steelers have admitted they need a massive improvement in their run game. Last in the NFL in 2020, the Steelers rushing attack needs to get going regardless of who is the quarterback. Additionally, retaining the Steelers high-level defense will also help Roethlisberger, or whoever else would be quarterback, succeed with the Steelers.
But when looking at specifically at what Ben Roethlisberger can do to bring the most success to the Steelers, an interesting stat that stands out more than others is touchdowns to interceptions ratio.
Obviously, more touchdowns are a great thing. Just as obvious, throwing less interceptions is desirable as well. But if you really want to see how they are operating together, looking at them as a ratio is the best way to go.
In 2020, Ben Roethlisberger had a 3.3 touchdown to interception ratio on his way to a 12-3 regular-season record. It was the third highest ratio in the statistic he had in his career behind only 2014 (3.56) and 2010 (3.4).
When recalling these seasons for Roethlisberger, 2010 stands out as a season where the Steelers made it all the way to the Super Bowl. In 2014, Roethlisberger had arguably the best season of his career overall only for the Steelers to get derailed in the postseason after having to sign a running back off the street in order to start their playoff game against the Ravens.
To put the touchdown to interception ratio into more perspective for the 2020 season, in Roethlisberger‘s first 11 games of the season, which just so happen to be the Steelers winning streak, his TD/INT ratio was 4.17 with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. Over the last four games when Steelers went only 1-3, Roethlisberger‘s ratio dropped to 2.0 TD/INT. in the Steelers’ Wildcard loss, the ratio was only 1.0 TD/INT as Roethlisberger threw four touchdowns yet for interceptions.
The reason I feel this statistic stands out more than anything it’s because it is much like turnover margin. A team can force two turnovers in a game, but if they’re giving it back to the other team four times it doesn’t really matter. The same goes with comparing touchdowns to interceptions with a quarterback. Looking strictly at the Steelers’ Wildcard loss, it looks impressive that Roethlisberger threw for 500 yards and four touchdowns. Had it not been for the four interceptions, the outcome of the game would have likely been different, as well as Roethlisberger’s somewhat padded stats.
Ben Roethlisberger does not have to throw more than the 33 touchdowns he had in 2020 in order for the Steelers to be successful this season. Interestingly enough, every season the Steelers have made the Super Bowl with Roethlisberger a quarterback, he has thrown exactly 17 regular-season touchdowns. It’s not that throwing more touchdowns would not be welcomed, but it also needs to come with balance. Throwing a significant amount of touchdowns while keeping interceptions at a minimum is the best recipe for success.
Perhaps this statistic was obvious to you. Frankly, I found it kind of obvious as well. But whether you are examining individual games, or just a cluster of games, looking at the touchdowns to interceptions truly does give a decent gauge for success with all of the things considered. If Ben Roethlisberger can hold this ratio at around 3.5 or better in 2021, look for the Steelers to really make much more noise around the league than many, including a number of Steelers’ fans, are expecting.