Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger met the media on Wednesday following the morning mini-camp practice and answered questions about his age, style of play, the offense and of course Mike Wallace.
The Steelers quarterback was asked if anyone has every told him in the past to just go down and take a hit or run out of bounds. “Yeah, all the time. My mom, my wife, my grandma,” said Roethlisberger. He was next asked if changing his game by taking less chances is part of protecting him more this upcoming season. “I\’m not going to change my game,” said Roethlisberger. “Coach can do what he wants to add protection and do things like that, but I\’m going to play the game the way I know how. It\’s worked OK for me so far.” When asked specifically if there was anything that he can do this year to stay healthier, Roethlisberger said, “Nah, I haven\’t even thought about that yet. I don\’t think there\’s this big revelation like I need to do this, or do that. It\’s just, don\’t take hits, but I don\’t know how not to do that.”
The remarks made by Roethlisberger are not too surprising as he is telling the truth when he says that is the only way he knows how to play the game. Since being drafted by the Steelers, Roethlisberger has shown his ability to extend a play like no other quarterback currently in the league. During his eight years in the league he has 363 completions that have gone for 20 yards or more and owns a career third down completion rate of 61%. To go along with that, he also owns a 47% successful play rate on third downs when he passes.
Now not all those stats were from extending the play or holding onto the ball longer than he should, but a good chunk of that success is attributed to just that. Unfortunately the gift that the 30 year-old quarterback has, combined with less than stellar offensive line over the years, has resulted in him taking 314 regular season sacks. These sacks, or near-sacks at times, have taken a toll on him physically. Most recently it was the ankle injury he suffered against the Browns last year that took the biggest toll on Roethlisberger. Although he only missed one game as a result of it, it severely limited his mobility and his accuracy.
Roethlisberger noted today that the new offense being installed by new offensive coordinator Todd Haley will give him the ability to check down to his running backs more, should the need arise. That is not the first time we have heard that this off-season and it likely will not be the last either.
While the Steelers have stocked up on offensive linemen via the draft the last few years, you can bet that Haley likely intends to get Roethlisberger to get rid of the ball more quickly than he has done in the past. This plays into the comments made by Art Rooney II after the 2011 season, in which he said that his star quarterback needs to tweak his game. Part of that tweaking looks to come in the form of the offense trying better to establish a successful running game early on. Roethlisberger has mentioned as much in previous interviews, even though he seems against the notion of running more.
It will be interesting to see just how much Roethlisberger attempts to extend plays this upcoming season and what the response is, if any, from Haley, who has done a good job over the years with the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs at keeping the sacks down. Of course he has never had a quarterback like Roethlisberger that has made a solid career out of extending plays and taking hits. Something has to give here, one would think.