Is Roethlisberger Actually Holding The Ball Longer This Season Compared To Last?

Through the first 8 games of the season Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has only been sacked 17 times which is a rate of 2.125 a game. Should he stay on that same pace it would wind up being the lowest per game rate since the 2005 season, a season that saw him play in just 12 games.

The new offense has of course led to the drop in sacks as Roethlisberger is getting rid of the ball quicker, or so we think. Pro Football Focus has a new stat that they call, “Time To Throw,” which measures how long a quarterback has to throw, the average sack time and difference in completion percentage depending on how long they have to throw.

In 316 dropbacks so far this season they have Roethlisberger at an average time to throw of 2.73 seconds. That number is derived from the time when the ball is snapped to the point where the quarterback has either thrown a pass or can no longer throw a pass. Of the quarterbacks in the league that have at least 175 dropbacks, Roethlisberger ranks right in the middle of the pack.

On the plays that Roethlisberger has been sacked this season he has had an average time to throw of 2.56 seconds, which ranks him 28th out of 33 quarterbacks.

Roethlisberger gets rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or less on 50.3% of his throws and has a completion percentage of 75.6% on those throws. That completion percentage has him tops in that stat, according to PFF. Only 4 of his sacks suffered have come under 2.5 seconds in addition.

The other 49.7% of the time when Roethlisberger holds the ball for more than 2.5 seconds he has a 59.9% completion ratio, which is not tops, but still not bad at all.

Now these numbers are really tough to measure when you don\’t have anything to compare them to from previous seasons, but PFF does have 2011 numbers for Roethlisberger. His time to throw in 2011 was 2.73 seconds, which is hardly different from this season. 53% of the time last season he got the ball out in under in under 2.5 seconds. What? I thought for sure this would be less than 50%.

His time per pass attempt this season is 2.64 seconds compared to 2.57 seconds last season. A little bit better protection, perhaps?

The big difference that I see in 2011 is the time to sack. It was 3.03 last year as opposed to 2.56 this season. That\’s nearly a half a second difference. This is where you see the effect of shorter routes and use of the running backs come into play in my opinion as we have seen less of Roethlisberger extending plays outside of the pocket this year as opposed to previous years.

So based on the numbers that PFF provides for this season and last, Roethlisberger is actually not getting the ball out quicker on average, it just seems that way, because he is not extending plays as often thanks to the shorter route combinations and use of the running backs.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • John O’Malley

    Stated otherwise, we have a real offense this year. Much fewer empty back sets with twenty yard routes with a result that Ben gets hammered by a jailbreak blitz before getting to throw. Further, with the way we spray the ball around, the defense cannot sit on one or two routes and take everything away.
    Did you see the awful O-Line the Eagles had on Monday night? I was getting flashbacks to years past with Ben getting sacked time and again.