Big Ben Off To Better Start On Ball Security

My biggest concern about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger heading into the 2017 was whether or not he would exercise greater ball security on his passes than he had in each of the two previous seasons.

At the moment, there is too small a sample size to make any sort of meaningful determination, but he does have a single interception 71 pass attempts, which works out to an interception percentage of 1.4, quite near the lowest of his career.

It is one thing, however, to avoid throwing interceptions, and it is another to be fortunate. Last year, Roethlisberger was pretty fortunate that he did not have a higher interception total than the 13 he threw in 2016, as there were many others that could have resulted in turnovers, a ratio higher than the average.

For my own purposes, I have gone back over Roethlisberger’s throws this season to determine for myself which of his passes are ones that I would deem turnover-worthy. Aside from the interception that he threw during the season opener, I believe that he had two turnover-worthy throws on Sunday.

That gives him three turnover-worthy passes through the first two weeks of the season, and on 71 pass attempts, that equates to a turnover-worthy throw percentage of 4.2. Pro Football Focus also must have determined that the same three throws merited such distinction, as they gave him a 4.1 percent rating. The discrepancy is reflected in the fact that they for some reason include sacks in their numbers for total dropbacks rather than total throws.

Given how much I talked about it last season, and how much disagreement among different groups of people there was, I think it would be a good idea if this is something that I actually track and put on display, so I will be doing a quarterly breakdown of his passes that I felt were turnover-worthy for public scrutiny.

For a point of order, a turnover-worthy throw should be defined as one that, when it left the quarterback’s hand, could have given a reasonable effort from the defense resulted in an interception. A lot of these throws in question would consist of interceptions that were dropped.

I would not say that Roethlisberger has thrown any interceptions that have been dropped so far, but he did have one on a corner route that hit the outstretched defensive back’s hands. It would have been a good play, but it could reasonably have been expected that this play would have resulted in a turnover.

Shortly after that throw, he also threw a deep ball on which only the deep safety was anywhere near it. The defender had difficulty both backpedaling and locating the ball, but ended up at the end diving for the ball, which landed just out of his grasp.

Given that the quarterback just spent time talking about his priority in taking care of the ball, I thought it would be worthy of discussion.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.