Haley On Roethlisberger’s First Half: ‘He’s Working With Some Different Guys’

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.”

  • WARisHELL

    Please. Something has been wrong with Ben all year and it’s not the guys around him. Frankly I don’t think we’ll ever see the Ben we’re used to ever again.

  • PapaJuju

    Yeah he has an acute case of ageitis. He doesn’t take care of himself like Brady. The first thing to show up on the stat sheet for old QB’s are the issues with deep passes.

  • Bryant Eng

    I can’t discern any decline from watching Ben other than the fact that he might be a little less mobile in the pocket than he used to be. Then again, he has better protection than in the early half of his career, and thus, he may not need to emulate Houdini all the time. The arm strength is there, let’s not kid ourselves – this is Ben we are discussing, not Chad Pennington. Bryant missed nearly all of training camp due to legal technicalities relating to his reinstatement, Smith-Schuster is a rookie and Ben lacks a legitimate TE safety valve like he had in years past (H. Miller). I expect a big second half from Ben. Perhaps V. McDonald, despite his unsure hands, and Bryant will become a bigger part of the passing game. This offense may not be good for 30ppg, but they are better than 20.9ppg, and Ben isn’t the problem right now.

  • Preston Coe

    I love Ben and what he has contributed to this team, but Haley is living in denial if he believes there has not been a drop off over the last few season. Ben has not been throwing with his same form, and it shows with his lack of accuracy. Additionally, he is not as mobile as in years past. This mobility has helped give his receivers more time to get open. He has been great in times past in finding those open receivers. These days, he isn’t scrambling and lengthening the plays and is having to hit a tighter window as a result. Just my opinion.

  • Bryant Eng

    Agree on mobility, but he has had substantially more time to throw. Time isn’t an issue. I find it interesting that you see a substantial difference in Ben’s throwing motion. No one else in the media, coaching staff or SD has pointed that out.

  • francesco

    Let’s just say that if it weren’t for LBell and our Defense we were looking at a 2- 6 record instead. Yes Ben could have had 2- 3 more td’s if they were caught but in the same way he could have had 4- 5 more interceptions as well.
    Looking at their second half schedule…i don’t see them having a better record than 5- 3 which means they will finish with a record of 11- 5.

  • PaeperCup

    Yes, if you take out a feature piece of the offense, and 11 guys on defense we might not have as good a record. Thank you for pointing that out.

  • CountryClub

    You’re going to find out after the season that he’s been playing with an injury. Probably something in his legs.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Shut up Haley. Don’t make excuses. Your playcalling is average at best and Ben has not been good this year.

  • Donovan L Faulkner

    excuses, excuses. Totally disagree, Ben needs to do two things, stop concentrating on AB, TAKE what the defense gives him, even if that means dinking and dunking down the field. This is not a while thought article. Number 1, players are injured, traded, sign with other teams all the time. I guess if you have MegaTron and Moss for two years, they both walk, you have GRUNK, AB and Julio for the next, and they leave after 1 year, you have Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper the next. Ben needs to play better with this corp. Martavis needs to play better. It’s not all on 7, but he stunk it up against the Jaguars. In Ben I trust, but he has got to get rid of the ball before Villanueva gets him killed from his blind side.

  • PaeperCup

    That’s it there. Ben is still good, even at half speed I would take him over most of the QBs in the league. But he’s not playing well enough to bail Haley out of the bad play calling. Haley’s play calling is bad because it’s relying on Ben to make the tough plays. Bad time for both of them to stink it up.

  • will

    Broken toes

  • Donovan L Faulkner

    100% right. He needs to watch his weight

  • francesco

    Let me also say something that you probably already know…the offense has not flat out won a game yet if not for the defence bailing us out.

  • DSG

    As i have mentioned before, bens qb rating in 2014 was #3 the highest it has ever been. Since then he was 11th in 2015 and 2016. And halfway through this season he is 24th. Anyone who doesnt think ben is in decline hasn’t been paying attention and is in denial. Keep in mind, ben has a very strong supporting cast – the sane cannot be said of the other qbs ahead of him in qb ratins.

  • pittfan

    Good thing it’s a team game..

  • francesco

    Yes good thing. However I wonder if the Offense and the Defense intermingle with each other during the week? It seems they only come together on game day.

  • PaeperCup

    yes the offense. My only point is that it doesn’t fall all on the QB. Ben is playing like an average QB. But average QBs can be effective on the right team with the right play calling.

    Ok, I’ll give you that the offense hasn’t flat out won us the game, but they also haven’t flat out lost us the game. Well they did Jax, but the defense lost us the Bears game in the same way. The offense has done enough. And maybe that’s the identity of this team again. Pound it on the ground, control the clock, minimize mistakes.

  • Rob

    Ben isn’t playing well. But I’ve seen him play so well for so long that I have to hope that it can be turned around.

  • francesco

    At this point we need Ben to just manage the game with high percentage throws. And that’s why I named LBell as being the reason for our record. He pounds it on the ground and controls the clock.

  • PapaJuju

    Disagree with you on their second half schedule. I see them going 6-2. I have an L to the Patriots and losing one other of the Bengals/Ravens/Titans.

  • nutty32

    One day Peyton Manning showed up and had a noodle for an arm & every team started forcing him to make long throws to the sidelines or deep. Sucks getting old. Hopefully, Ben can sneak a trophy in there like Peyton before people start debating Landry Osweiler needing to take over his job.

  • Preston Coe

    I didn’t say time was an issue. What I said was that he is not extending plays like he used to. When he did in times past, the receivers inherently had more time to break free. As for the throwing motion, I was speculating. He has been less accurate…over throwing some and under-throwing others. It may or may not be a technical issue. Haley says he is more accurate than ever and that it is due to working with new receivers. I guess we should believe him. It will be easier to, when he starts connecting more with his receivers.

  • hdogg48

    He’s a 14 year veteran that’s led his team to 3 Super Bowls
    winning two of them.

    Why say that he has to adjust to new players, shouldn’t
    it be the other way around…they should have to
    adjust to him?

    Just asking……

  • francesco

    In addition I had them losing to the Texans in Houston.

  • PapaJuju

    Tough game, but the Steelers are a bad match-up for the Texans.

  • francesco

    Yes Ben is working with a few different receivers but the problem may be that he’s been under one particular OC🤔

  • FATCAT716

    Everything comes back to Brady & the damn patriots. F the Patriots

  • FATCAT716

    Thank you

  • FATCAT716

    Lol

  • Jaybird

    Ben can still make the throws, he does not have a noodle arm like Peyton and his surgically repaired neck. Ben’s accuracy has been off, but not the arm strength- it’s still plenty good.

  • Grandmaster Fistage

    Man, there sure is a lot of sandy vaginas in this comment thread

  • WreckIess

    I’m not buying that. I mean sure that may be part of it, but he’s been unusually inaccurate this year. As of right now, his completion percentage is at it’s third lowest of his career behind that injury filled 06 season and the 08 season where at the very least he was clutch. It’s just been strange because the arm strength is still there, but he’s just not hitting these throws. Some have already forgotten that horrible throw to Jesse right before the long TD to Juju.

  • Grandmaster Fistage

    Ben is going to be just fine. It’s good to see someone recognizing that most of this negativity toward Ben is overblown. He’ll pick it up soon and start hitting on all cylinders. When he does, all the negative BS will go away. I would like to see him throw a game-winning touchdown this year to win the Super Bowl in a similar manner to Super Bowl XLIII just to shut the critics up and win another Lombardi

  • #beatthepats

    Got a feelin “whose laughing now” coming in february for #7

  • Some people like being that younger brother. It’s getting very tiresome…

  • walter

    Ben does better while under pressure. I remember one team dropped everyone in coverage and Ben sucked. The only drop off i see in Ben is his mobility.

  • Mr jack

    I hate to say this but Inthink you are right.

  • Mr jack

    I think Haley is being nice.Ben has played c plus qb play so far this year.I cannot put my hand on it ,but Ben is what holding the Steelers back from having the best offense in the NFL.

  • falconsaftey43

    He is still above average QB, I think there is a definite decline this year in his accuracy. Just look at AB’s catch%. It is at 60.6%. it hasn’t been that low since 2011. Last year it was 68.8, then 70.5, 71.3, 65.9, 62.3, 55.6 it is not hard to think of some of the missed throws to AB this year. Not really an explanation for that besides Ben’s decreased accuracy this year.

  • falconsaftey43

    You realise Haley has been here awhile right? Like for 2014 when Ben had arguably his best season of his career.

  • NinjaMountie

    This has nothing to do with Ben’s age or his ability. He’s lost zero arm strength and he’s as healthy as he’s ever been.
    You don’t lose the ability to read defenses as you get older, it’s the opposite actually.
    I don’t buy the new pieces thing, either. He’s gone through this before.
    His problem is something else. Maybe he’s not preparing well enough (doubt it). Maybe he doesn’t really want to play anymore (could be but still weak). My bet is it’s just a slump/confidence issue.
    He’ll break out.

  • NinjaMountie

    And you’re still using that stat incorrectly. Not to mention it’s a horrible evaluation method when that is the only thing you use.

  • NinjaMountie

    Yup, I agree. I’m leaning toward 5-3 though if Ben does improve his play a bit 6-2 is realistic.

  • francesco

    Maybe teams have figured them out. They need to devise new plays. Or better yet disguise them in some other way.

  • PaeperCup

    No argument from me on that one.

  • PaeperCup

    But it’s the Steelers….they show up against those tough matchups. They’ll probably lose against the Titans.

  • Mark

    He makes $20 mln per season, figure it out Ben. That’s why you are paid the most and a captain. Why do we give him excuses that don’t fly with the top QBs in the league. Yes, ER drop a sure TD, but the throw to handcuffs Bay could’ve been easier and softer.

  • PaeperCup

    I don’t think it’s a new pieces thing, but that he LOVES the old pieces.

    I do think they are forcing the long ball this year, and not connecting. I don’t think their hit percentage is any less than normal, they just have more attempts. At least that’s what I see with the naked eye.

    But every failed long ball is a missed opportunity for a high percentage play. That has nothing to do with his skillset. Just decision making and play calling.

  • PaeperCup

    fact

  • Jones

    Brown has made some uncharacteristic mistakes this season as well as far as drops & not being on the same page with Ben.

  • Eduardo Suave

    I think Ben needs to watch Rocky III and get his eyes checked, dude needs glasses.

  • Steve Volk

    I’d still like some definitive analysis of whether James should have kept running.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    This is something I have mentioned here a few times. I do not think this is the only reason why he is struggling but I think it is a logical and probable answer to partially why he is struggling.

  • Zarbor

    I think that’s what frustrates me so much. Whats the big deal in admitting that he needs to play better. I hate when people try to make it seem like he’s fine and nothing has changed with Ben. Its obvious that there is no consistency in his throws from play to play. It used to be game to game in the past. Hate to say it but we all know it. If Ben doesn’t get better, we can kiss that Lombardi goodbye. His play is still the biggest reason we will win it or lose it. I’m banking on him getting it together but with comments like Haleys it make me doubt greatly.

  • Matt

    This is the truth. I hope I’m wrong, but we are 8 games into this season, and thus far it looks like Ben isn’t seeing the field and that his throws are more off target than in the past. I see no reason to believe his play will improve significantly.

    Again, I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not getting my hopes up about Ben turning everything around.

  • Sdale

    Yep, if he’s off, it’s usually an overthrow or too high on the intermediate routes.

  • nutty32

    True, true Ben does not have a noodle arm yet but he’s definitely lost a few ticks off his fastball & accuracy/control also fades fast with age. Peyton got that last ring riding his improved D & run game, hopefully the New look Steel Curtain can choke out teams too come playoffs.

  • DSG

    What? How do you use that stat incorrectly. It is what it is. Its his qb rating relative to the other qbs. But you must mean i am using it incorrectly and its a horrible evaluation bc it doesn’t fit with your opinion. But its an objective measure. Please explain why it’s a horrible measure? Do you know all the inputs into the model? Do you have an alternative model that is better? If so, please share.

  • dennisdoubleday

    I did hear Chris Collinsworth say that it looked like Ben could not step into the throw in his normal way. All the sacks in the early part of the career and the uncalled low hits may be starting to take their toll.

  • NinjaMountie

    How do you use it incorrectly? Well, you use it like you are. You are using it in an attempt to show that Ben is regressing.
    The only thing that stat shows, the way you’re using it, is that other QBs had a higher QB rating than Ben after 2014. That’s fine. It has nothing to do with Ben’s performance though.
    You’re focusing on his standing in the rankings opposed to his actual ranking.
    Don’t even get me started how you decide to only go back 3 years to the year he posts a 100+ QB rating; which, btw, is only the 3rd time in his going on 14 year career.
    Then JUST IGNORE the fact that the year before that he posted a QB rating lower than his ’15 and ’16 year.
    Seriously, how much cherry picking of a stat do you want to do? It’s actually laughable.
    Talk about someone forcing a square peg in a round hole to fit their agenda…..ummm, that’s you.
    Again, and the last time. In all the years you mentioned he posted a QB rating ABOVE his career average. His 2014 rating you go on about is actually the aberration. The 2015 and 2016 seasons are pretty much right on par for his standard QB rating. Actually, again, a little higher than his career average.
    I mean, dude, you’re actually refuting your own hypothesis with the stat that you are using.
    And one more time:
    Using the QB rating alone as any kind of evaluation is beyond silly.

  • NinjaMountie

    I agree. Long balls are nice but they seem forced from the offense this year.

  • mezzetin1

    No, he got a second chance to do that in SB 45. Didn’t work out. I want them to blow out whoever they face in the post season, period.

  • Nolrog

    That’s the bottom line. Ben has missed a number of open receivers and has not thrown a good ball with any consistency. His completion % is the lowest it’s been since 2010 and his quarterback rating is the lowest it’s been since 2008. Plus his TD/INT ratio is close to 1:1, when it’s usually closer to 2:1.

    There are definitely some troubling signs for Ben, and I don’t buy into Haley’s comment that he’s working with different guys. It’s been an entire pre-season and 8 regular season games now.

  • Jaybird

    I think Ben is going to have a much better second half. I really do. I think there have been too many moving parts on offense this year. I think the whole offense will be better , not just Ben. I like how this team is starting to look. Should be fun the rest of the way, go Steelers!

  • Jaybird

    I wonder if it’s his mechanics. I’m sure age has something to do with it, but he is always high. I’d think that would have a little something to do with machanics also.

  • Generic Steelers Fan

    If Ben didn’t get in that dang motorcycle accident eleven years ago we wouldn’t have this problem. Should have been wearing a helmet!

    I agree with a lot of the other commenters here. I think it’s time to cut him IMMEDIATELY (and Todd) and start Dobbs.

    Two words for ya: knee jerk

  • Balok’s Plight

    yep, when he misses its high

  • Balok’s Plight

    Anyone read the ESPN piece about him this week?

  • budabar

    It’s like Chuck Noll said if your thinking about retirement then your retired, Ben mentally retired after last season and is now just going through the paces

  • Sdale

    I’ve wondered the same thing.

  • Scott N.

    Isn’t that when Ben dinked and dunked all year? I can’t remember what season it was, but Ben had one of his best years after Haley became the OC with the task of helping Ben get rid of the ball earlier with shorter high % throws.

  • Joe

    LMAO!!
    Ben, isn’t the problem right now. Delusional you are, sir!!

  • Following_Christ

    Anyone being honest with themselves has to admit that Ben is not playing even close to the level he was playing at last year.
    The offense was averaging big nearky 30 points per game, and this year (even with Bryant back and the additions of JuJu) they’re lucky to average 20 points per game. That’s not going to cut it against the Pats, who are starting to show signs of being their usual juggernaut offense, with an up-and-coming defense to compliment.

    At the start of this season I speculated that Ben was having issues with his eye sight and depth perception – he’d overthrow a WR a particular play, then under throw him on the same route on their next possession – but now I’m more inclined to believe that it’s a combination of him “hearing footsteps”. Watching tape from just this past game, and you can see that he’s making hurried passes, even when the nearest defender is 5+ yards away from even whiffing on hitting him, and he seems to be focused on something other than his WR’s (likely his impending retirement at the end of THIS season) when it reall matters.

  • Joe

    Spot on!
    No one in that organization can admit it. They continue to walk on egg shells around him. You have more faith than I do.
    The inconsistency is so obvious. Take the fist play of the game. If he hits Juju in stride it’s a touchdown yet later in the game he hits him in stride for a touchdown. DHB is strolling into the end zone wide open but the ball is overthrown. A simple pitch and catch as Collingsworth noted.
    We are 8 games into the season and they are making excuses for him. His poor play is on him!

  • Joe

    He’ll pick it up soon and start hitting on all cylinders. Been hearing that since week 3.
    Steelers are very fortunate to be 6-2. Just think of the QBs they have faced. How many can you identify as elite?
    Kizer
    Keenum
    Glennon
    Flacco
    Bortles
    Smith
    Dalton
    Stafford

  • Joe

    It’s ridiculous some of the excuses people come up with. Yes, I too am not a fan of Haley but what does Haley have to do with missing open receivers?

  • Balok’s Plight

    “hearing footsteps”…. I agree

  • HiVul

    Hard to identify any player that’s been more disappointing so far

  • MC

    I think it’s more lack of preparation. That 97 TD pass to Juju came because of good play recognition, something that we hadn’t seen much of prior to that this season. He still has the arm, he just needs to know where the mismatches and holes are gonna be so he doesn’t force things and stare down one receiver. Off course, his accuracy hasn’t been good either but I feel like that is subject to change.

  • jsteeler

    Ben should have 10 int’s. Ben threw the ball to the DB and the DB didn’t catch it AB 1 hands it and turns it into a TD for Ben all from a poor throw. AB has saved Ben’s Big Ass more than once. Ben is more likely to be off than AB being off the same page. AB is dependable because he can get open. That is only pt 1. Pt II is catching and advancing the ball. AB is Ben’s saviour right now.

  • jsteeler

    Mobility? How about Accuracy!
    Pocket passers aren’t Mobile. They just hit the moving target. I don’t care about Ben moving. Throw a accurate catchable pass. Give the WR’s a chance.

  • jsteeler

    How do you adjust to a QB throwing to a wide open WR in the end zone 10 yards past the player?
    How do you adjust to a QB that throws to a wide open WR on the boundary and the ball is sailed passed the sidelines.
    How do you adjust to a QB who sees 8.9 defensive players creeping to the line and he still hands the ball off to LeVeon bell?
    Why can’t the QB adjust or audible out of that and to the strength of his team and play makers and quick slant, Quick bubble pass or shovel to AB, Ju Ju, Martavis, Eli, or J.J?
    What ever happened to the no huddle after 1st downs on the opponents side of the ball?

  • jsteeler

    Wow, Joe, I felt that one!

  • jsteeler

    Ben has also missed McDonald and Hey Bey in the end zone this year. Reoccurring theme or just Ben being Ben.

  • robert

    maybe ben is hurt and not saying anything or maybe ben needs to call his own plays I have seen to many long plays maybe need a little closer and crossing plays and use that run game,now for sec. half of season I see them 7and 1 maybe 6and 2

  • walter

    Ben was never accurate as a pocket passer. Thats my point. He is more accurate while moving. Take away his mobility and he is just average.