It's been a little while since I have posted about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and just how great he is when he uses play-action. Prior to the Saturday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Roethlisberger talked about play-action when he was asked about the running game and if the offense needs to depend on it a lot in 2013 in order to be successful.
"We always want to be able to run the ball," said Roethlisberger. "It makes you more balanced and helps open up the pass and the play-action pass. So, it’s a big key for us."
In the first two preseason games, the Steelers offense really didn't game plan and Roethlisberger only played a total of 43 snaps of which 21 were passing plays. Against the Chiefs, however, the offense did have some small semblance of a game plan and that included a pretty good use of play-action.
In total, Roethlisberger dropped back to pass 22 times against the Chiefs Saturday night, and on seven of those drop backs he used play-action. Those seven plays resulted in him completing six of seven passes for 131 yards. One of those completions, a 25-yard pass to wide receiver to Antonio Brown, was nullified by a bogus chop block penalty on running back Jonathan Dwyer, while the only incompletion was a drop by tight end David Paulson. That's way above the standard.
For the entire preseason, Roethlisberger was 9-of-11 passing for 170 yards if you count the negated pass to Brown. His only other incompletion was the batted down screen pass to Brown in the preseason opener against the New York Giants. In addition, five of his completed play-action passes during the preseason resulted in explosive plays of 20 yards or more. Oh, and he was also never sacked on any of those drop backs.
It is very cliché to say the run sets up the pass, and I am not even going to try to go down that path in this post. I do believe in the case of Roethlisberger; however, that a good running game sets up the play-action pass, and I also believe that the Steelers quarterback will absolutely kill defenses this year if the offense can get itself into more than their fair share of second downs with five or fewer yards to go.
Roethlisberger is not just a good play-action quarterback; he's one of the best in the league, and a good running game in 2013 will only make him better.
Watch the pocket presence on play-action play below.