ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski has now released his annual preseason quarterback rankings and this year he has Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ranked sixth overall behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck.
Pittsburgh’s 8-8 record may not be what fans expect from the Steelers, but after reviewing the tape, I thought Big Ben had one of his best seasons in 2013. We all know he has a unique skill set, with the ability to be a pocket passer but also extend the play when it’s necessary. He’s a little like a dancing bear with how light he is on his feet. Ultimately, there are two sets of numbers that stand out to me for Roethlisberger. The first is that he has 156 career starts and has won 67 percent of them. That’s astonishing. The second is that veteran quarterbacks understand the necessity of coming away with touchdowns and not field goals in the red zone. In the last two seasons, Roethlisberger has 27 TDs and zero INTs inside the 20-yard line.
It’s really hard to ague with Jaworski’s assessment of Roethlisberger, but I do believe that the Steelers quarterback has thrown 37 touchdown passes inside the 20-yard line over the course of the last two seasons and not 27. Roethlisberger gets cheated enough, so let’s not short him ten touchdown passes.
As far as Jaworski having Luck rated ahead of Roethlisberger, let’s look at those red zone passing numbers again over the course of the last two seasons. According to Pro Football Reference, Luck has only completed 48.9% of his passes thrown inside the red zone during his first two seasons in the league and also had four of them intercepted.
While Luck certainly has a bright future ahead of him, he’s only won one playoff game so far and completed just 57.0% of his passes in his first two seasons in the league. I still think it’s premature to rank him ahead of both Roethlisberger and San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Last year at this same time, Jaworski had Roethlisberger ranked seventh overall, so at least he’s jumped up one spot. However, that jump should have been two spotsand I’m sure that most of you reading this will agree with me.