Despite What Jaworski Says, Roethlisberger Is Elite

By Jeremy Hritz

Ron Jaworski recently finished his top 30 quarterback rankings in which Ben Roethlisberger was notched sixth, behind Eli Manning (5), Peyton Manning (4), Tom Brady (3), Drew Brees (2), and Aaron Rodgers. Jaworski’s comments about Roethlisberger were intriguing, especially when declared “[Ben is] on the cusp of becoming elite.”

On the cusp? Are you kidding me?

While there is no question that Rodgers, Brees, Brady, and Peyton are definitely elite quarterbacks, Roethlisberger belongs in that category as well. Unfortunately, because his game does not fit the traditionalist definition of quarterback play of sitting in the pocket, pundits are hesitant to apply the elite label. What is being ignored here is that there is more than one way to play the quarterback position at an elite level. When it comes to Roethlisberger, his style of play is devalued and qualified as being good, but short of outstanding because it deviates from the accepted standard.

Earlier in the year I wrote about the debate that would occur regarding who was the better quarterback, Eli or Ben, but it seems clear that earlier on, the media is giving Eli the advantage. According to Jaworski, Eli shows “many of the attributes demanded to play at an elite level,” implying that Eli is elite and Roethlisberger is not.

Not that any of these rankings matter or have any impact on anybody’s play, but they do indicate the stereotypes that surround players, especially Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger, for many years now, has been described as “big” and “strong,” or as Jaworski puts it, “barn strong,” which is accurate. He is also often described by analysts as a “backyard football player,” “who is at his best when the play breaks down.” Sadly, this type of quarterback play, though tremendously effective for Roethlisberger as it has resulted in his .708 career winning percentage, does not make one elite because it is unorthodox.  Unless Roethlisberger statues up for an entire season, it is highly unlikely that he will ever get the praise that he truly deserves.

But think about it, how many passes have you seen Roethlisberger throw from the pocket that were razor-sharp accurate? Several. However, the 30-year-old quarterback with the 63.1% career completion percentage, 5% higher than Eli Manning, is not perceived as the “precise” quarterback that Eli and company are. Roethlisberger can do traditional, but why would he force a change that could potentially impact what has made him successful?

Roethlisberger is a player who is celebrated for attributes such as strength and toughness, which aren’t always indicators of quality quarterback play (see Tim Tebow). Even early in Roethlisberger’s career, he was dubbed a “game manager,” and never truly received the proper credit for his play. His success was either always the result of an effective running game or a strong defense. Now, as Big Ben enters his ninth season with two Super Bowl wins, three Super Bowl appearances, and ten playoff wins, he is only on the verge of being elite according to Jaworski.

Barring an enormous statistical season this year, Roethlisberger will continue to be underrated by the media, which I am sure he is fine with, as throughout his career, he has emphasized winning, regardless of how ugly it was. So for now, we’ll leave the elite tags for the Mannings, Brees, Brady, and Rodgers, and we’ll just settle for another Lombardi in 2012.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SNGP7UOGE2DYM57CFV5PPAKBZI Zarbor

    I personally don’t care for that goober name Jaws. Him and Chucky were awful on Monday nights. I would not agree with this joker but in this case I think I do but for much different reasons.

    I know many of my Steelers will disagree with me but that’s fine. I like Ben and wear his number along with Pola and Ward. Make no mistake, I personally would not trade Ben for any of those QBs. Yup, Brady, Manning, Brees, etc.

    However, I’m not blind either. Ben is not as great of a passer as Brady, Peyton, Rodgers or Brees. You can argue style, stats, or whatever. Those guys are just better. They are more consistent and most defenses would tell you the same.

    I personally think Ben is right behind these guys (better than Eli and Rivers). We clearly don’t want Ben to be the traditional drop back in the pocket QB because that’s not his entire game. But Ben needs to be smarter at times to be considered elite.

    I do believe that Ben is on the cusp of being elite but his OC is what has been killing him from making that last hurdle. The offense always seem to be sputtering and rarely did it look like a well oiled machine. He made it work but that because he has talent some of those elite don’t.

    Most of those elite guys have a system that runs like a fine machine. Not ours. If we get Ben that fine oiled machine, I believe he will clearly be in the Elite crowd. I think he has the OC now to do so, which is why this year will tell us a lot about Benji. You can call him elite and I won’t be mad….but I think he needs make a clear distinction between him, Eli and Rivers.

  • Ahmad

    Of course Ben is elite but today all anyone cares about is stats instead of looking at the whole picture. Ben has had success behind the worst offensive line in the league and a terrible OC. Let the Mannings, Brees, Rodgers, and Brady stand behind that line and see how well they do.

  • Lamarr56

    I think his defintion of elite is Brees, Brady, and Rodgers. Those guys are in another class than every other quarterback in the league. Guys like Ben and Eli are still incredible, but not elite by Jaws’ definition. Ben at 6 is right about where I would put him, which in my book, is elite.

  • zyzak

    All Jaworski does is call Flacco, Flawco

  • jlj84

    Six is about right. Ben has certain skills that few QBs have. Sure he is a gamer but he could become a better, more efficient player. Hopefully he will take the next step and play smarter. (Yes, taking an avoidable 8 yard sack on 3rd down that makes a 38yd field goal now a 46yd field goal is a mistake.) I would like to see Haley help him see that value in working on the mental side on his game (better film study, pre snap reads, protections, progressions, etc.).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pee-Wee-Parker/100000794611151 Pee Wee Parker

    Who cares what Jaworski thinks Big Ben plays for the Black and Gold all that matters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pee-Wee-Parker/100000794611151 Pee Wee Parker

    Jaworski lol lol lol is joke!!!

  • johnstownjim

    Ben is not elite because he don’t throw 20 passes a game to guys standing 5 yards past the line of scrimmage.

  • Jason Brown

    Jaworski is a clown…Like these other posters have said, put Peyton or Eli behind the Steelers’ pitiful o-line the last three years and they woulda’ ended up as hamburger. Here’s the real question, ask ANY coach in the league who they fear most OUTSIDE of the pocket when he’s on the run. Now ask yourself. Who’s elite??!?!