Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger certainly hasn’t had a great first half of the regular season as he’s thrown almost as many interceptions (9) as he’s throw touchdowns (10) in the team’s first 8 games. Even so, Roethlisberger and the Steelers still managed to enter their bye week with a 6-2 record and that’s good enough for them to currently be the No. 1 seed in the AFC. On Wednesday, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley talked about Roethlisberger’s first half of the season during his session with the local media.
“He’s one of the most accurate throwers I think in the league,” Haley said of Roethlisberger, according to pennlive.com. “When you watch him on a daily basis, he’s working with some different guys. There’s been a little movement within the receiver group, the tight end group, not so much with the running back group. Some of those guys he doesn’t have a long history with so that makes you have to adjust and grow as fast you can.
“Some of the inconsistencies you see from the outside are not things we see on a daily basis that would be alarming in any way. I’m seeing the same quarterback that’s continued to improve. It’s just the basic variables and some bounces that maybe haven’t gone our way. We’ll continue to work and make sure they go our way in the second half.”
While Haley does somewhat have a point when it comes to Roethlisberger working with several unfamiliar players as a reason as to why the quarterback have struggling in the first eight games of the season, only wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is a rookie. Sure, wide receiver Martavis Bryant sat out all of last season, but even so, it’s not like he’s totally new when it comes to working with Roethlisberger.
While Roethlisberger’s 9 interceptions in the team’s first eight games is a cause for concern, five of those came in the Week 6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and a few of those are much easier to swallow when you look at the all-22 tape from the game. With that said, several of Roethlisberger’s other interceptions were ill-advised throws and additionally, he’s had a few other poor throws that probably should have resulted in picks. In fairness, however, Roethlisberger could probably have at least two or three more touchdown passes right now if not for drops by a few of his teammates.
All things considered, perhaps the biggest issue Roethlisberger currently has entering the second half of the season is his deep pass completion percentage. Roethlisberger currently possesses an average air yards differential stat of -4.1 yards and that’s the worst in the league entering Week 9 of the NFL season. He’s completed just 34.2 of all passes thrown more than 15 yards past the original line of scrimmage so far this season as only 25 of them have found their intended marks. Additionally, 6 of his 9 total interceptions this season have also come via deep pass attempts.
Negative points aside, we’ve still seen Roethlisberger make enough solid throws so far this season to lead us to believe that he’s far from being washed-up. If he can get his deep passing game on track during the second half of the season, he’s bound to post better numbers over the course of the team’s remaining eight regular season games than he did in the first eight. If that ultimately happens, the Steelers figure to have a 6-2 or better record to close out their 2017 regular season and that might just be good enough for home field advantage throughout the playoffs, or at worst, a first round bye.
“I think he’s been on point, Haley said Wednesday of Roethlisberger. “He’s working hard. He’s giving us chances to win games.”