It is a small sample size, and very early on in the season, but according to Pro Football Focus, so far through the first two games of the year, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL on snaps in which he has moved around in the pocket.
I say that it is a small sample size, but when it comes to Roethlisberger, we are talking about as small a sample size as it can get, for two obvious reasons. For one thing, he is not all that mobile of a quarterback by choice, so he doesn’t move in the pocket much when not forced.
You have probably gathered that the other reason that he has a low number of snaps in which he moved in the pocket is because the protection has been good, so he has not had to move much. PFF only used quarterbacks with at least eight such snaps and yet turned up 36 quarterbacks. Only Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Case Keenum—who is a backup—had the bare minimum.
So on his eight dropbacks, he has thrown seven passes, completing four of them for 68 yards, having thrown neither a touchdown nor an interception, but he has been sacked once—presumably the second sack on Sunday off of play action when Jesse James could not reach Everson Griffen in the red zone.
While he has a completion percentage of 57, PFF credits him with an 80 percent accuracy rate—which doesn’t make sense for seven pass attempts, but whatever.
Roethlisberger has so far averaged 9.71 yards per pass attempt on throws for which he moved or was forced to move in the pocket, which is the third-highest figure in the league so far, behind only Matt Ryan—who has a ridiculous 20.43-yard average, throwing for 143 yards on three of seven completed passes—and Jared Goff—who has completed four of nine passes for 115 yards—at 12.78 yards per attempt.
But Roethlisberger was given a higher grade than both of them. I realize that most people are indifferent at best about PFF’s grades, but his moved passing grade is the second-highest in the league behind only Tyrod Taylor, and just ahead of Matthew Stafford. They are the only three quarterbacks with a grade of at least 70. Tom Brady just missed the cut at 69.9.
Say what you will about PFF or the microanalyzing of statistics, but I think that this is an interesting one and one that I would hope to monitor further as the season develops. Roethlisberger has always had the reputation of being a good quarterback when things break down, so it is no surprise that he has done well here.