December 26, 2007

Something To Believe In...

"He's a great quarterback, and I think what happened last year has just caused him to maybe put that much more [pressure] on himself to come out this year and play really well for this team."
- Brett Keisel
Happy Wednesday friends. Hope you all enjoyed your respective holidays! Today, it's back to work, and here at OFTOT, it's story time....

This past April, Domski and I were in Tampa, Florida visiting some friends, when we had a very interesting and puzzling experience. While we were out one night, we were talking with a Buccaneers fan who said something I'll probably never forget - he told us he would rather have Chris Simms under center than Ben Roethlisberger. Needless to say we tried to state our case to him, and point out that he just might be out of his mind, but he was not to be persuaded. He, like many, thought that Big Ben's "success" was never really all that great or even attributable to his abilities as a Quarterback. In short, he felt Ben was essentially one and done. Looking back now, I wonder if he has changed his mind...

Frankly, as we all know, there isn't much not to like about where Big Ben is at right now. 32 TDs, only 11 INTs, a 65% completion percentage, and his 1st trip to Hawaii all sound pretty good to me. Especially after a 2006 performance that included just 18 TDs, 23 INTs, a 59% completion percentage, a concussion, an appendectomy, and one giant bounce off the windshield of a Chrysler New Yorker (sans helmet). A classic Hollywood turnaround story if you will.

All the talk this year has been about Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Brett Favre. And rightfully so, I'm not taking anything away from any of them. BUT the fact is, Ben has thrown the ball 132 less times than Brady, yet only has 16 less TDs (ok so thats still a lot of TDs, but you get the idea), has thrown the ball 100 less times than Homo Romo, yet only has 4 less TDs (and 7 less INTs), and has thrown the ball 120 less times than Favre, yet has 6 MORE TDs (and 4 less INTs). Oh and PS - he has 1 MORE TD (and 3 less INTs) than the archetype QB himself Peyton Manning, despite having tossed the pigskin 95 less times. AND I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that he's been sacked at least twice as many times as any of the aforementioned. I'm not trying to say Ben isn't getting the respect he deserves (although he probably isn't). Honestly, I'm ok with him being under the radar. However, I AM trying to say that Ben IS deserved of any respect he does get.

Anyways, now that Willie is on IR, Najeh is the new head closet shitter tailback, and Verron Haynes is back, it seems apt to mention/reiterate that this is essentially Big Ben's game. I'm not saying Najeh can't play a pivotal role in this year's playoff run (let's hope it lasts long enough to call it a run). But to me, these games will hinge on Ben's ability to execute play action, throw the ball down the field, and at the same time, continue manage the game (as really they all ultimately do). Ben's come along nicely in the few short years he's been in the league. And this post season he is in an even better position than he was in 2005, when despite putting up one of the worst performances statistically, was still able to make enough plays to win Super Bowl XL.

So, playoff seeding? Doesn't really matter. Sunday's opponent? Doesn't really matter. Primary Running Back? Doesn't really matter. Regardless of where we ultimately end up, who we play on Sunday, and who's carrying the ball in lieu of Willie Parker, the bottom line is the same, Mike Tomlin has made that much clear -- The Steelers will play to win, and not just the next game - but the ultimate prize. And in doing so, Big Ben shall lead us, as he has all year.

Now I turn to you all - Do you believe in the godsend Big Ben? Will he step up in the clutch? Does he have more ability than we give him credit for? Will he ever start wearing a helmet? Let's discuss...

2007 NFL QB Stats [ESPN]
No Love For Parker, Roethlisberger [Blitzburgh Report]
Tomlin Worries Most About The Biggest Picture [Post-Gazette]
Steelers Still Face An Important Game [Associated Press]
Mike Tomlin Presser [SteelCityInsider]
The Steelers Make A Great Christmas Gift [SteelCityInsider]

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

Did you see that peter king apologized for not having big ben in his TOP 20 players list for the top 500 nfl player rankings?

Anonymous said...

Can you just imagine what Ben could do behind a half decent O Line? I seriously worry about his health every week. If he weren't such a tough SOB, he would be near death right now.

troubledjew said...

and this just brings back to what ive been saying over the past couple weeks. if we want ben to continue the rooneys will have to be willing to pay 4 protection. sure some of it is bens fault but u have to play the card that were dealt. hes a great qb and this is his baggage. we have to play around it until and if he can fix it. u look at some of the other top qbs and u have to wonder how good they would be if they were sacked 3 times a game and leveled a few more times. everyone knows tom brady and peyton manning are not the best evading a blitz. if ben tried to sit in the pocket like brady he would be dead now.we just have to keep him safe

Cotter said...

notgomu ~ Nah, hadn't seen that. In general I try to limit the amount of shit I read from Peter King. It tends to make me dumber...but it's good to know at least he's finally acknowledging Ben. Although in fairness to Peter King it's hard to recognize other talented players when you've got your head permanently stuck up Brett Favre's ass.

anonymous ~ I do often wonder that. When I double checked my estimation and saw the exact numbers it was sickening. 47 times vs. like 15, maybe 22 for Favre or something. If Ben had the kind of time those other guys have, who knows...

tj ~ Yeah, it's downright frustrating. And there are definitely times he holds on to the ball too long. But if he had the kind of time he COULD have, we might not even have to call him out for that. More time to make a play, without a rush breathing down his neck...does he even need to throw the ball away?

PS - I worked it out and Ben averages a TD throw every 12.5 or so attempts, or about 2 TDs a game, assuming he throws 25 times on average. By these numbers, if he had attempted 100-125 more passes he'd have approximately 8-10 more TD passes, which would put him in the 40-42 range. Yikes, that's a spicy meatball...

Tobiathan said...

All things considered, I'd say confidently that Ben is probably the BEST QB in the league right now. Especially in comparison to the amount of evading he has to do versus his TD proficiency.

All in all he's always productive in spite of the numerous issues he has to deal with. No other QB in the league, including Brady or Manning, could be as productive under so much pressure. Manning can shake off an occasional sack, but neither he nor Brady can do much passing on the run. I give Brady credit, though, for taking the first-down runs that opposing defenses give him. Like to see Ben run just a *little* more often in those situations..

Glad Ben made the Pro Bowl finally. I think when it's all over he'll be a HOFer, although it is tough luck that he's playing alongside Brady and Manning.

As for Romo- i think he's pretty good, but not at the pure talent level or physical level of Ben or Brady or Mannning.

Merry Christmas/Happy Channukah/ Happy Holidays all.