Roethlisberger Completions Report: Updated Through Week 2

Every week I will chart Ben Roethlisberger’s completions across a variety of categories in an effort to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of the Steelers’ passing game.  As we get deeper into the season and as more throws get recorded, this information will become more reliable in identifying various trends and tendencies. If there are any other areas related to the passing game that you think are worth monitoring please let me know in the comments.

Completion Percentage by Coverage Shell

Through the first two games of the 2017 season, Roethlisberger has been significantly more effective at completing passes when throwing against Zone coverage.  So far he has played 35 passing snaps against Zone (Cover 3 and  Cover 2-Man) with a combined completion percentage of 74%, which compares favorably to the 36 snaps he’s played against Man (Cover 0, Cover 1, and Cover 2-Man) where he has a combined completion percentage of 58%.

It’s important to note; however, that the types of throws that Roethlisberger attempts against Man and Zone coverages are very different. For example, he is much more likely to attempt lower-percentage, downfield passes against Man when he believes he has favorable personnel matchups. Conversely, it is more probable that he will take a quick hitch, throw the pass option in an RPO, or run a screen (all high-percentage plays) against softer Zone looks.

For the record, 3 of the 4 plays that I categorized as Cover 0 were goal line defenses where the coverage was a Man-Zone Bracket look. I just wanted to keep things simple for charting purposes, but since there was no true deep safety and the outside corners were in Man, I thought Cover 0 was as close to an accurate classification as possible.

Completion Percentage by Route Type

As I alluded to in the introduction, some of the stats in this report will become more meaningful as the season goes on and as more data becomes available. Roethlisberger’s completion percentage by route type is one example of this fact. As it stands; however, his deep passing success (Verticals, Posts, Corners) is low and some other routes that typically have a high completion percentage (such as screens) are being dragged down because of the ratio of dropped passes to total attempts. Expect his graph to change significantly in the coming weeks.

Completions/Attempts per Route: Bubble (3/3), Comeback (1/1), Hitch (6/6), Shovel (1/1), Crosser (8/10), Out (9/12), Slant (5/7), Screen (6/9), Curl (3/5), Seam (3/6), Over (1/2), Vertical (1/6), Dig (0/1), Corner (0/1), Post (0/1)

Completion Percentage by Targeted Receiver

Similar to Roethlisberger’s completion percentages against various Coverage shells, his completion percentage categorized by his intended receiver is largely dependent on the typical types of routes run by each player. For example, because Martavis Bryant is often targeted on deep throws, it makes sense that his catch rate would be lower than someone like Leveon Bell who normally runs shorter, higher-probability patterns. Antonio Brown is the obvious outlier in this area, given that he runs a full route tree and is frequently targeted on plays where he is not conventionally open. Again, expect this chart to fluctuate in the next few weeks as more targets get recorded.

Catches/Targets: James (10/13), JuJu (3/4), Brown (16/22), Bell (7/10), Rogers (6/11(, Bryant (5/10)

Completion Percentage by Target Area

Lastly, a quick look at Roethlisberger’s completion percentage based on the area of the field that he targeted. As the season goes on, it will be interesting to compare his “hot” areas to his success against various coverages. At the moment; however, don’t read too much into this chart because of the small sample sizes.

About the Author

Sean McKaveney

Sean McKaveney is currently a student at the UCLA School of Law and was formerly the starting Quarterback and Team Captain for Claremont McKenna College, a Top 10 Liberal Arts school in Los Angeles. Although he grew up in Southern California, Sean was raised as a diehard Steelers fan by his father, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers are undefeated in games that Sean has attended.

  • falconsaftey43

    This stuff is amazing. Your last chart is missing FYI. Keep up the awesome work!

  • Cullen James Riley

    It’s interesting how much better Ben throws to the left side of the field, as opposed to the right.

  • Talyn Scarbrough

    It’s really not that uncommon for a right handed qb. When you throw depending on personal mechanics the natural rotation of the body would set up best for a left side throw (power is always generated from the ground up). Or like on Happy Gilmore “it’s all in the hips”. It seems counterintuitive because your head and eyes will be predominantly fixated on the right side. This causes defenses to step into the right and opens up the left side. Not a 100% accurate analysis of why this happens but it’s a good starting point.

  • cencalsteeler

    Good stuff!!! 2 of 12 on deep passes. A big reason why I’m not a fan of the mini Hail Marys Ben throws.
    Very low percentage rates. I’d like to see the intermediate pass attempts double the deep attempts and right now, it’s dead even at 12 a piece.

  • razaard2

    Also I think AB is usually on that side

  • razaard2

    To be fair we got some nice pass interference flags on some throws and that doesn’t show in the stats

  • razaard2

    Wow awesome article. Keep bringing those

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Nice work.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    But the 5 forced to an makes a big impact on them.

  • Zarbor

    I agree this is good stuff but there are so many factors involved not on here. However it does tell me that Ben doesn’t like to throw the ball to Eli Rogers who is a mismatch in that intermediate area.

  • RickM

    I consider many deep passes where there’s a PI penalty as ‘completions’ as the DB only interferes because he’s been beaten. I assume they go down as incompletions, but frankly that’s unfair to the QB on those specific plays. So we probably would have at least one more completion (i.e. the pass that bounced off Bryant’s helmet). The play where the guy grabbed AB is a little more difficult to classify. It kind of looked like he wouldn’t get that regardless of the PI, but it’s impossible to be sure.

  • Sean McKaveney

    PIs go down as “no play”, meaning that no pass attempt is recorded in the QBs stats

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    1 dig, 1 corner, 1 post, and 1 comeback… 6 verticals

    Not exactly what you might imagine from the team sporting the best route runner in the league.

    Great info Sean. Thanks for this!

  • And if not, he’s running crosses in that direction.

  • Swe De

    Steelers Depot is – per David Todd – THE most comprehensible source for Steelers coverage on the web and this isn an example of comprehensive. I love the information here and it only makes me hungry for more. Since you encourage requests for more info I’d like to ask for a few more charts.

    Tomlin stardilynrefers to situational football and I believe these numbers are very important as well. That said, I’d like to see Ben’s numbers in certain situations, most notable down and distance success rates and time/score-relevant numbers.

    For example, how many of Ben’s passes are thrown on third/4th downs beyond the first down marker compared to how many of his throws would require yac to gain the first down.

    Also, how effective is Ben with the lead in the fourth quarter vs while trailing.

    Any other situational stats you feel are relevant and paint a picture of Ben’s success in the clutch are welcome!

    Thanks again, you guys Rock!

  • Jason

    as a right handed guy you are already in position to see and throw to the left, its just how it works a lefty would be the opposite

  • Sean McKaveney

    Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll look into it for next week.

  • Petherson Silveira

    First, do you use Hudl?
    Second, WTF is happening on the right side of the field?

  • RickM

    Thanks. I didn’t realize that.

  • Sean McKaveney

    I don’t use Hudl for these reports, but I used it when I was in college.

    Don’t worry too much about the right side (yet), there’s only been 6 attempts on intermediate and deep throws so far.

  • Petherson Silveira

    Thank you Sean!!!