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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.

Quarterback TEAM YEAR CMP ATT CMP% YDS Y/A 1st 1st% TD INT QBR
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2009 273 399 68% 3346 8.39 162 41% 19 11 98.4

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

Quarterback TEAM YEAR CMP ATT CMP% YDS Y/A 1st 1st% TD INT QBR
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2009 237 343 69% 2867 8.36 141 41% 17 10 98.9

Since concussion

Quarterback TEAM YEAR CMP ATT CMP% YDS Y/A 1st 1st% TD INT QBR
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2009 36 56 64% 479 8.55 21 38% 2 1 95.8

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

Quarterback TEAM YEAR CMP ATT CMP% YDS Y/A 1st 1st% TD INT QBR
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2009 219 297 74% 2677 9.01 119 40% 15 6 109.5

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

Quarterback TEAM YEAR CMP ATT CMP% YDS Y/A 1st 1st% TD INT QBR
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2009 53 98 54% 668 6.82 42 43% 3 5 64.5

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

Quarterback TEAM YEAR CMP ATT CMP% YDS Y/A 1st 1st% TD INT QBR
Aaron Rodgers GB 2009 89 131 68% 1295 9.89 65 50% 11 0 127.9
Eli Manning NYG 2009 74 119 62% 1180 9.92 55 46% 10 3 112.7
Peyton Manning IND 2009 89 124 72% 918 7.4 65 52% 8 1 110.9
Tom Brady NE 2009 73 117 62% 845 7.22 54 46% 8 0 107.0
Drew Brees NO 2009 72 114 63% 981 8.61 55 48% 11 5 104.5
Brett Favre MIN 2009 89 133 67% 1132 8.51 67 50% 9 5 100.2
Jason Campbell WAS 2009 81 112 72% 998 8.91 51 46% 4 4 96.5
Philip Rivers SDG 2009 63 110 57% 1050 9.55 53 48% 8 5 94.9
Alex Smith SF 2009 45 72 63% 410 5.69 22 31% 4 1 90.6
Carson Palmer CIN 2009 79 134 59% 994 7.42 60 45% 7 3 90.2
Joe Flacco BAL 2009 78 124 63% 888 7.16 55 44% 7 4 89.7
Shaun Hill SF 2009 34 52 65% 414 7.96 18 35% 1 1 88.1
Matt Schaub HOU 2009 69 113 61% 845 7.48 52 46% 5 3 87.8
Matt Ryan ATL 2009 58 98 59% 729 7.44 43 44% 4 2 87.5
Kyle Orton DEN 2009 67 118 57% 729 6.18 44 37% 8 3 87.1
David Garrard JAC 2009 69 118 58% 875 7.42 47 40% 4 2 85.9
Donovan McNabb PHI 2009 49 86 57% 630 7.33 29 34% 5 3 84.9
Kurt Warner ARI 2009 64 108 59% 683 6.32 42 39% 6 4 80.9
Vince Young TEN 2009 30 54 56% 356 6.59 24 44% 3 2 78.9
Trent Edwards BUF 2009 38 56 68% 392 7 18 32% 1 2 78.9
Matt Hasselbeck SEA 2009 54 98 55% 537 5.48 35 36% 6 3 78.5
Tony Romo DAL 2009 63 116 54% 750 6.47 43 37% 3 2 75.7
Jay Cutler CHI 2009 74 124 60% 826 6.66 48 39% 9 9 73.5
Chad Henne MIA 2009 64 109 59% 630 5.78 53 49% 4 4 72.0
Brady Quinn CLE 2009 39 77 51% 492 6.39 26 34% 4 3 72.0
Marc Bulger STL 2009 39 74 53% 354 4.78 25 34% 2 1 69.3
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2009 53 98 54% 668 6.82 42 43% 3 5 64.5
Mark Sanchez NYJ 2009 57 111 51% 665 5.99 41 37% 3 4 63.8
Matt Cassel KC 2009 62 121 51% 727 6.01 32 26% 4 5 63.6
Kerry Collins TEN 2009 29 63 46% 338 5.37 21 33% 1 1 61.5
JaMarcus Russell OAK 2009 38 79 48% 356 4.51 17 22% 0 0 60.9
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 2009 26 54 48% 301 5.57 12 22% 2 3 54.6
Matthew Stafford DET 2009 62 116 53% 671 5.78 44 38% 2 10 40.6
Josh Freeman TB 2009 26 59 44% 305 5.17 14 24% 1 4 37.7
Jake Delhomme CAR 2009 34 77 44% 384 4.99 23 30% 3 7 34.8

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

Quarterback TEAM YEAR CMP ATT CMP% YDS Y/A 1st 1st% TD INT QBR
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2009 53 98 54% 668 6.82 42 43% 3 5 64.5
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2008 81 140 58% 981 7.01 62 44% 5 6 73.5
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2007 84 130 65% 1177 9.05 69 53% 13 6 107.8
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2006 90 142 63% 1124 7.92 66 46% 6 9 75.6
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2005 47 84 56% 581 6.92 32 38% 4 4 73.6

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.

About Dave Bryan

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.

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