Roethlisberger 3rd Down Stats – Why Ben Is A Better Run First Quarterback

The Bruce Arians haters will absolutely love this post. It is proof that Ben Roethlisberger is better suited in a run first type offense. Arians did this initially in 2007, but has since drifted off into his pass first offense. The most noticeable difference is what happens on 3rd down with Ben and a pass first offense.

The first thing I wanted to show was Ben\’s overall stats for the year. The 98.4 QB rating sticks out as quite good, as he is currently ranked 7th in the NFL in that stat. The passing yards as well are impressive as well, and he ranks 8th in the NFL and 5th in the AFC despite missing one game to injury. His 68.3% completion rating gets him the #3 ranking going into week 15. On the surface these numbers would look like a quarterback on a team going to the playoffs.

QuarterbackTEAMYEARCMPATTCMP%YDSY/A1st1st%TDINTQBR
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT200927339968%33468.3916241%191198.4

Next up, we want to see where Ben is post concussion. The first table shows his numbers before the concussion and the second table shows his 2 games since the concussion against the Chiefs. Although he played in just 2 games, nothing really sticks out as far as stats go that would suggest the injury had an effect.

Before concussion

QuarterbackTEAMYEARCMPATTCMP%YDSY/A1st1st%TDINTQBR
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT200923734369%28678.3614141%171098.9

Since concussion

QuarterbackTEAMYEARCMPATTCMP%YDSY/A1st1st%TDINTQBR
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT2009365664%4798.552138%2195.8

Next we will look at Ben\’s stats on 1st and 2nd down combined this year. Other than the 1st down conversion being a bit mediocre, it certainly is a great stat line. You have to remember though that really you have 3 downs to convert a 1st, so that stat may not be very relevant here.

1st & 2nd down combined

QuarterbackTEAMYEARCMPATTCMP%YDSY/A1st1st%TDINTQBR
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT200921929774%26779.0111940%156109.5

Now lets see his 3rd down stats this season. This is where things get very interesting. The QB rating takes a significant dip as does the completion rating. Also the 43% 1st conversion % could be a little better, but that hinges a ton on the completion %.

3rd down stats

QuarterbackTEAMYEARCMPATTCMP%YDSY/A1st1st%TDINTQBR
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT2009539854%6686.824243%3564.5

Now lets look at Ben\’s 3rd down stats compared to the rest of the quarterbacks in the league on 3rd down ranked by QB rating. As you can see, Ben ranks 27th against QB\’s with 50 or more pass attempts this season on 3rd down. He also ranks 25th in completion % against that same list of QB\’s. Quite interesting numbers.

3rd down stats

QuarterbackTEAMYEARCMPATTCMP%YDSY/A1st1st%TDINTQBR
Aaron RodgersGB20098913168%12959.896550%110127.9
Eli ManningNYG20097411962%11809.925546%103112.7
Peyton ManningIND20098912472%9187.46552%81110.9
Tom BradyNE20097311762%8457.225446%80107.0
Drew BreesNO20097211463%9818.615548%115104.5
Brett FavreMIN20098913367%11328.516750%95100.2
Jason CampbellWAS20098111272%9988.915146%4496.5
Philip RiversSDG20096311057%10509.555348%8594.9
Alex SmithSF2009457263%4105.692231%4190.6
Carson PalmerCIN20097913459%9947.426045%7390.2
Joe FlaccoBAL20097812463%8887.165544%7489.7
Shaun HillSF2009345265%4147.961835%1188.1
Matt SchaubHOU20096911361%8457.485246%5387.8
Matt RyanATL2009589859%7297.444344%4287.5
Kyle OrtonDEN20096711857%7296.184437%8387.1
David GarrardJAC20096911858%8757.424740%4285.9
Donovan McNabbPHI2009498657%6307.332934%5384.9
Kurt WarnerARI20096410859%6836.324239%6480.9
Vince YoungTEN2009305456%3566.592444%3278.9
Trent EdwardsBUF2009385668%39271832%1278.9
Matt HasselbeckSEA2009549855%5375.483536%6378.5
Tony RomoDAL20096311654%7506.474337%3275.7
Jay CutlerCHI20097412460%8266.664839%9973.5
Chad HenneMIA20096410959%6305.785349%4472.0
Brady QuinnCLE2009397751%4926.392634%4372.0
Marc BulgerSTL2009397453%3544.782534%2169.3
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT2009539854%6686.824243%3564.5
Mark SanchezNYJ20095711151%6655.994137%3463.8
Matt CasselKC20096212151%7276.013226%4563.6
Kerry CollinsTEN2009296346%3385.372133%1161.5
JaMarcus RussellOAK2009387948%3564.511722%0060.9
Ryan FitzpatrickBUF2009265448%3015.571222%2354.6
Matthew StaffordDET20096211653%6715.784438%21040.6
Josh FreemanTB2009265944%3055.171424%1437.7
Jake DelhommeCAR2009347744%3844.992330%3734.8

Now lets see Ben\’s 3rd down stats from this year and his previous years. You almost have to throw out his rookie year. Even though the Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl, the offense was predicated on the running game and the defense kept the opposition in check. 2007 was when of course the Mike Tomlin head coach era began and Bruce Arians took over as offensive coordinator. Ken Anderson also took over as quarterbacks coach. In 2007 the Steelers ran on 511 plays that year while passing 442 times with 47 sacks. In 2008 the Steelers ran 460 times and passed 506 times with 49 sacks. Thus far in 2009 the Steelers have run 350 times and passed 429 times. Every year since 2007, Ben\’s QB rating on 3rd down and completion % has dropped. Only in 2007 did the Steelers run more than they passed.

Ben 3rd down stats 2005-2009

QuarterbackTEAMYEARCMPATTCMP%YDSY/A1st1st%TDINTQBR
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT2009539854%6686.824243%3564.5
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT20088114058%9817.016244%5673.5
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT20078413065%11779.056953%136107.8
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT20069014263%11247.926646%6975.6
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT2005478456%5816.923238%4473.6

Are you drawing the same conclusions I am? The more the Steelers get away from the run, the less effective Ben is on 3rd down. Even with a high completion % and QB rating on 1st and second down. I will next compile how the 3rd down distances have grown over the past 3 years as i am willing to bet the numbers show that the Steelers had many more 3rd and more than 3 yards from 2007 on. You need to also remember that the current offensive line was built to run, not pass. This is probably the biggest proof that Bruce Arians will be fired after this year and an offensive coordinator will be brought in who focuses on a run first offense. Ben is a great quarterback better suited for a run first offense. Adding more play action and screens back into the play calling should get the offense back on track and help keep an aging offense off the field. The question is, can Rashard Mendenhall be a 25 carry a game back and can the offensive line provide the run blocking they were built for. Judging by the success the Steelers have had this year when trying to run the ball, I think the offense can rebound from this season as their is enough play makers on the field on offense.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Ron

    Good stuff my man. 3rd downs have been a major disappointment this year.