Roethlisberger’s Play-Action Passing Attempts Are Way Down And That’s Not Surprising

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been known for some time as one of the better quarterbacks in the league off of play-action, but so far this season, he hasn’t been able to use it much.

According to Pro Football Focus, Roethlisberger has used play-action on only 12.4% of his drop-backs so far through the first four games and that ranks him 32nd overall when compared to the other starting quarterbacks with enough snaps to qualify.

However, it should be noted that Roethlisberger has a 73.7% completion ratio during his 22 play-action passing attempts so far this season and that ranks him fifth overall.

So is any of this a surprise? No, not when you consider that the Steelers have been behind seven or more points on the scoreboard for 126 of the 129 second half offensive plays run so far this year.

Because the offense has been behind so much in the second half of games, they have attempted to run the ball only 24 times. In addition, Roethlisberger has been in the shotgun for a large amount of those second half snaps.

With rookie running back Le’Veon Bell now healthy, the Steelers will likely make a more concerted effort to stick to the run early in games moving forward. As long as they can keep games close or actually lead in the second half, you should see Roethlisberger’s play-action attempts increase and that should produce favorable results.

  • JohnB

    He probably doesnt want to turn his back to that line. I cant say i blame him.

  • Pete

    Good point. Teams may not bite as much when they think you have to pass. But also the running game has been under par, most of which I blame on the O line. If you can’t run effectively it’s hard to use play action. Unless Bell can improve his 3.6 yd average and the line can block better for him, I don’t see much improvement in the run game in the future. Which of course does not bode well for the rest of the offense.

  • cencalsteeler

    Dave, can you e-mail this article to Tomlin? It’s obvious playing catch up is not the Steelers style. Every game we start out in the hole (other than the self inflicted safety). So, if this is the case, why does Tomlin insist on deferring the ball at kickoff? I have an incredible idea…. let’s actually take possession in the beginning of the game and see if we can score and not put so much pressure on the D. This will create more play action pass for Ben. As of now, we are not playing high percentage football. What does LeBeau say? Stop the run, right? Well, with this style of catch up football we are playing, our offense is stopping the run for the opposing defenses by playing behind.
    On a side note: I watched Tomlins post game press conference. It sounds like when a lineman goes down (Foster), this takes them out of their game plan, and out of what they prepared for schematically during the week. Doesn’t this go against 2012’s theme of “next man up”? Injuries are part of the game, so why is there no preparation for these situations?

  • treeher

    Steelers defer so that their vaunted D can take the field and establish the team’s momentum instead of putting their putrid O on the field. Wait … no, I mean Steelers defer so that their O can establish the momentum in the 2nd half. Well, maybe, but then the D has to stick it to them to maintain momentum. Wait … no, maybe what we need to do is not show up at all. Just take the inevitable loss anyway and avoid the injuries.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Adams last year looked at least decent last year in run blocking and maybe if we get back to smashmouth football it will give the kid confidence plus using up clock, keeping Ben from getting hit so much thus using play action for big plays but Haley must stick to the game plan of that, this is why Arians isn’t here anymore. Haley must learn from others who preceded him.

  • joed32

    Improving the running game will slow down the pass rush. Maybe with Bell they can.

  • Michael Parker

    Bell is definitely going to improve that stat as long as Haley is smart with him. Should’ve pounded him on both plays inside two right before half instead of horrible fade to Miller ( which made no sense; he’s still not 100% and has no lift ) and what else a sack on third. This kids gonna be special. Let’s just hope they can put together a nfl quality oline by next year.

  • I wouldn’t put it so much on playing from behind as on the run. For PA to work consistently the threat of a run game has to be there, and particularly for the first two games, it wasn’t. I expect the usage to increase with Bell in there.

  • That’s vaunted D is 24th in the league in points given up (partly Ben’s fault) and 11th in yards. I think they need a new strategy. 🙂

  • Stillers N’at

    Play action can be used even when there is no threat of a run game because everyone on the defensive side of the ball still has to hesitate, even if it’s for 2 tenths of a second. I was screaming at the TV while Jarred Allen abused Mike Adams because I didn’t see one of four ways to slow an un-blockable speed rusher. 1. Jarred Allen would have been expecting the Steelers to slide a back to his side to offer help, how about a traditional screen play, where back hesitates and chips while Adams releases, Christ, Adams wouldn’t even had to act it out, and then dump a screen over Allens head. 2. simple play action right at Allen, not sure I saw that once. 3. A QB drop back draw. Again, Jarred Allen expected help from a back or a tight end, even if the play doesn’t work once, at least he has to honor something other than Mike Adams holding the door open for him like a Bell Hop at the Wynn! and finally #4. Some designed roll outs right at Allen. He has to have contain, so when the line shifts his way, Ben can still either hand the ball off, or fake the hand off and roll left towards Allen. The last two weeks, Mike Adams was going up against Julius Peppers and Jarrod Allen. This is Adams first year as a regular starter at LT in the NFL, and correct me if I am wrong, but he only played in like less than 30 games in college for one reason or another. 7.5 games per year. I think he will be good eventually. This doesn’t excuse his pitiful performance either, it just goes along with egotistical way that Haley calls games. It’s his plan, pass or fail, and he will die trying. Well have fun dying Haley, just do it as a coach of another team.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    That was a horrible play, I saw it coming when Heath lined up on the outside. Heath is great but fade patterns and out jumping a defender for the ball is not his game. Would rather have seen him run a curl route a foot into the end zone and use his body to shield a defender. I sure would like to know what Haley saw that he felt could be exploited on that play. Heath is no Jimmy Graham.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    I’d rather the Steelers run the ball with Bell 20+ times, Ben go 12-of-16 for 120yds 0 TD 0 INT 0 SCK and lose 13-10 then what we’ve been seeing thus far. I would seriously consider that a worthy improvement.

  • Mike Carroll

    If they played like that last week they would have lost 30-10. The offense held the ball over 36 minutes last week, so there would not be much room to improve TOP. The defense was just atrocious.

  • Mike Carroll

    Hated seeing that fade pass to Heath.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Haha…my point being Ben being statistically unimpressive would be taking less punishment and 13-10 implying the defense would do well to keep it close. A game like that (v Jets?)w/ no turnovers from our offense = improvement.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    we can hope

  • Steeler Wheeler

    I’m certain a rank of play action pass% equals the rank of rushing yards (for running backs)…if you can run and or get into game situations that favor running, you can use play action. If you’re the Steelers through the first four weeks, not.

  • charles

    The smashmouth part starts on the D.

  • charles

    I respectfuly disagree. Ben in read run option is not an option. While it may seem that Ben throws on the run a lot, he always tries to set his feet. He is not a rollout qb. Still, I hear you saying we have to try something.
    On Haley I strongly disagree. Bell seems to be one of the pieces to build a very good offense. The old Steelers (05 and 08) are gone Bettis is retired. The NEW offense of the Steelers is begun and personally I am excited. It may take a little more time. Overall Haley has not been perfect but he is slowly building a different kind of Steelers O and as opposed to Colbert you can see his imediate impact with player personel decisions. Definitely not throwing in the towel on this year yet, but Haley has the best football mind of the coaches and I could easily embrace Haley as head coach, Tomlin as DC. Lake certainly needs a place within the Steelers organization. This team has shown a steady decline since 08

  • Shannon Stephenson

    IMO its both sides and both sides do not seem to have that aspect in there game.