Big Lead Sports Bar


Big Ben...Game Manager?

The term "Game Manager" has always intrigued me. It's basically a term the media has invented to describe a crappy quarterback that somehow manages to win games. They're not asked to throw much, just more or less play safe and avoid turnovers. They're not expected to have the ability to throw their team back into the game if they're behind. They're never the focal point of an offense. Kyle Orton circa 2005, Trent Dilfer circa 2000, and Brad Johnson circa 2002 are all famous game managers. Heck, as recently as week one, our own Charlie Batch was asked to manage a game...which he did quite well, as a matter of fact.

Where am I going with this? Well, if the title didn't give it away already, it's the labeling of Ben Roethlisberger as "Game Manager". Would you agree with that label? Because that's exactly what's Phil Taylor says.
Taylor's list of the NFL aristocracy includes Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb. Brady has three rings on one hand, so he should be #1 on anyone's list. Manning has evolved into Dan Marino 2.0 as the annual stat king sans championship, but he has to be included. Palmer has some legitimate upside, and McNabb has at least been to a Super Bowl, so I can't argue with those choices either. But to lump Roethlisberger along with scrubs like Jon Kitna in his article? That's pretty amazing.
Taylor's list of "hopefuls" for the future of the position include Eli Manning and Phil Rivers, two QBs drafted above Roethlisberger in 2004 who have produced less than Ben to this point. Mark my words: Eli Manning will have great statistics when all is said and done. He will have made milllions upon millions of dollars, appear in a few Pro Bowls, and probably be in a bad cell phone commercial. But like every other QB named Manning who has played in the NFL, he will end his career without a ring. Rivers is more of an unknown, but I doubt he will ever be confused with Marino or Unitas at any point in his career.

I realize Ben has looked like he couldn't manage his way out of a Pop Warner game this season, as evidenced by his 0:5 TD:INT ratio, 34.3 passer rating, and 0-2 record. So this probably isn't a good time to argue on his behalf. But as I've said before, those numbers have been more exception than rule in relation to Ben's brief NFL career.

I look at a "Game Manager" as someone who is not asked or is unable to win a game on their own. Roethlisberger, 2006 aside, has won plenty of games as a result of 4th-quarter heroics, as early as his 4th NFL start, a 24-20 comeback win at Dallas. His play in last season's playoffs, when the Steelers came out throwing, was a virtual blindside to Denver and Indianapolis. Those are not plays a Game Manager makes.

I realize we're arguing over semantics, and really, who's Phil Taylor anyway? But this really boils down to the way national pundits view Big Ben. Taylor is not alone in his stance; the reality is that Roethlisberger is not viewed in the upper echelon of NFL QBs. I think fantasy football has a lot to do with this; but I think the Steelers' offense has the most to do with this. Roethlisberger is not asked to throw for 300 yards a game, but as the Colts or Broncos will tell you, he can certainly beat you through the air.

Manning and Palmer can win all the regular-season games and throw for all the 300-yard games they want; just keep giving us playoff wins and Super Bowl trophies and let Roethlisberger fly under the collective radar. Hopefully he'll choose the San Diego game as a reminder that he IS an elite NFL signal caller.


Anonymous said...

Using the terminology from his article, I'd say at this phase in his career Roethlisberger fits into the "good but not great" category with McNair and Hasselbeck.

Putting him with Kitna and Johnson is just crazy!

But, sportswriters don't have very long memories so I'm sure the events of the last two games are probably why he labels Big Ben the way he does.

And there's something that always gets lost when talking about Big Ben. It's hard to believe because it feels like he's been around forever but this is only his third year!! He's still a very young QB.

It's still too early to say what type of NFL QB he's going to be. Didn't Matt Hasselbeck just finally reach his prime at age 31??!?!

Philip Rivers is in his third year and he's just starting to actually play now.

People consider Rex Grossman a young guy with potential, and he's been around longer than Big Ben.

Carson Palmer was a benchwarmer/scrub until his 3rd year.

So I think the fact that Ben started so early in his career, and experienced so much post-season action in 2 years, makes people forget that he's still young and not totally polished yet.

(And oh yeah, there's also the fact that he doesn't seem to have totally overcome getting his face rearranged and having an emergency appendectomy yet.)

I say let's wait until he's been around 5 or 6 years before we start putting him into the same category as career journeymen like Johnson and Kitna.

Unknown said...


I'd say that you hit the nail on the head with your most astute comment about Big Ben's seeming lack of value because he is not a fantasy football league stud.

Also, the fact that he didn't have a great Superbowl XL didn't help his esteem factor either (even though it was still good enough to beat Seattle, thank you).

I think a better tag to put on Big Ben is that he's a "System" quarterback. In other words, he's not asked to carry the team on his back by the Steelers, but rather, to play one position out of eleven, albeit that it is the most difficult one to play on offense.

Just watch the Steeler's offense in two weeks against San Diego. They are going to make hamburger out of that team. Everybody will be saying, "The champs are back".

Bet the house,bet the farm, bet your first born son, even bet your wife!

Anonymous said...

I also think his sucktastic performance in the Super Bowl has something to do with it as well. People remember that game, instead of the rest of the playoff where he had 7 TD's and 1 Int. (I think) LIke you said, he is the main reason we were able to get off to fast starts in Indy and Denver.

Also, Bill Cowher is the best coach in the NFL when he gets a lead. He is content to run out the clock, which hurts Ben's stats. Most coaches are morons when it comes to this (see Andy Reid against NYG, and even Mike Holmgren last week). So these qb's might have more stats because of this, but probably won't have as many wins.

Anonymous said...

I agree operation shutdown here.

But, it's also kind of hard to defend the guy based on the first two games so far.

I just find it hard to believe that the guy forgot how to play football all the sudden though.