There were people ************ that the decision to fire Bruce Arians came from Art Rooney II and not Mike Tomlin. And there were people who moaned that hiring Todd Haley came from the suits too. But nobody in Steeler Nation seems to have an issue with the only demand Art II DEFINITELY made this offseason: Ben Roethlisberger needs to “tweak” his game.
Art II didn’t want his franchise quarterback, who already has a small tear in his throwing shoulder, to spend the season in which he turns 30 laying on his back after getting sacked 40 times again. Last year alone, Ben was banged up with a sore knee, a broken thumb, a sprained foot and one ugly high ankle sprain. Like most of Ben’s injuries, last year’s bruises came from trying to extend the play by escaping the pocket.
It’s a lot harder for defenders get clean shots on Ben when he’s in the pocket. But when Art II said he wanted Ben to “tweak” his game to prevent sacks, a lot of people didn’t think Ben could make the transition into more of a pocket passer rather than a one-read make-****-up-as-I-go-along QB. Well, he has…at least through two games.
The Trib’s Mark Kaboly broke down the tape of Ben getting down to business against the Jets – thank god, because we weren’t about to – and Healthy Pocket Ben looks a lot more attractive than Hurting Heart Attack Ben.
Roethlisberger completed 17 of 21 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown when he was a “statue” in the pocket. He finished with a passer rating of 117.7 in those situations.
The first sack of the game was because the O-line got blown up by the Jets’ defense – Ben didn’t stand a chance. But when he had to, Ben pulled off his usual dance moves, made guys miss and gave himself enough time to make a play…just like he did on the bomb to Mike Wallace. When Ben shuffled in the pocket, he went 7 of 10 for 98 yards and a score. It’s the best of both worlds.
Ben has been sacked 8 times through two games. Yea, that’s a lot but 3 of those were cheapie sacks that came in the final minute of the Denver game when the Steelers were in desperation mode. And even though he’s been taken down 8 times already, Ben still hasn’t taken even a slightly big hit – remember last year in the first game when he got destroyed by Haloti Ngata?
It’s still the same old Ben out there, he’s just making smarter decisions when it comes to using his feet. He’s trusting his offensive line more – that’s probably easier to do now that the same line combo has started both games – and his weapons have been upgraded so he doesn’t have to trust his legs as much. It’s still great to see him make a guy that would sack 29 other QBs miss but he’s not running improv bootlegs anymore when just a side step will work.