Big Lead Sports Bar

10/10/2006

Piling On Big Ben

If you ever wondered how many games worth of a honeymoon a Steeler QB gets after winning a Super Bowl, the official count is three games. Ben Roethlisberger has posted an 0-3 mark, a 41.7 rating, and a TD to INT ratio of 0 to 7 since returning in week two. He has looked tenative, inaccurate, and unwilling to tuck the ball and run upfield. Yet in each loss, he kept the team close, if not ahead, for most of the game. And these were games against Cincinnati, Jacksonville, and San Diego---three of the NFL's tougher teams---with two of them on the road and in primetime.
Yes, Ben has struggled. So has most of the team. But here's my problem: selective journalism. If I've discovered one thing when writing Mondesi's House, it's that you can tweak statistics to fit your argument in most every case.
For instance, I could say "Peyton Manning is one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. He is on pace to break nearly every major career passing record and continues to dominate in the regular season. The only career acheivement he has yet to reach is a Super Bowl win, and even greats like Dan Marino came up short in that department."
On the other hand, I could also say, "Peyton Manning may post great statistics every year, but he's never won anything of significance. Even in college, Tennessee won the national title after he graduated, with Tee Martin at quarterback. Statistics are wonderful, but as a great like Dan Marino will tell you, careers are viewed in a different light without a Lombardi Trophy."
Why do I bring this up? We all know Roethlisberger is struggling. But when certain reporters, radio show hosts/callers, columnists, bloggers, etc. mention Ben's struggles, some of them use selective journalism with this little precursor: "Going back to the Super Bowl..."
If you're going to rip Roethlisberger for his first three games, that's one thing. But the Super Bowl was part of the 2005 season. That has absolutely zero to do with 2006. The Super Bowl was played before the motorcycle accident, before the appendectomy, before Antwaan Randle El was a Redskin, and before Hines Ward hurt his hamstring. No, he did not have his greatest game in the Super Bowl. But this is an example of piling on a guy when he is down.
Dan Patrick was a prime example of this on his radio show Monday afternoon. He likes to go back and mention the Super Bowl when trashing Ben. But why not mention the AFC Championship, Dan? You know, when he picked apart the vaunted Denver defense in their own house? How about the win at Indianapolis when he outplayed Peyton Manning? What about the win over Cincinnati?
Ahh, but Dan did not mention those games, because that would have killed his argument. Just go back as far as you need to, support your argument, and move on. That's great journalism.
Roethlisberger is not as bad of a QB as he has played so far. He can't be. He has a career passer rating of 89 and prior to this season had lost four games in two years. He went 13-0 as a rookie starter and won a Super Bowl at age 24. So excuse me if I don't push him down the stairs after a few lackluster games and proclaim Philip Rivers as the best quarterback in the 2004 draft.
First of all, it's not even totally his fault. The offensive line has been ATROCIOUS. You can always tell how well or poorly the O-Line played by looking at the rushing statistics:
vs Cincinnati, 170 yards
vs Miami, 143 yards
vs San Diego, 68 yards
vs Jacksonville, 26 yards
What can you tell from those stats? Maybe the fact that when they topped 100 yards on the ground, they won one game and should have won the second, if not for their own turnovers. The line is not right for the running game, and that means it's not right for Roethlisberger either. Ever hear of using the run to set up the pass? I know the Steelers aren't running a modern-day duo of Jerry Rice and John Taylor out there, but you can't pin this totally on the receivers either. No time to throw means no time to get set, resulting in a hurried, and sometimes uncatchable throw. That would explain the 7 interceptions.
If you really want to antagonize a guy and think that will help, look to New York and Alex Rodriguez. Those great Yankee fans with their high standards are so smart, they ran their own $25 million man further into the ground when he struggled. Congratulations, you're out of the playoffs again. If your own guy is struggling, and you know he's psychologically soft, why dig the hole deeper? Score another one for Yankee fans.
So Steeler fans, if you want to have a black-and-gold version of A-Rod, keep up the Ben Bashing. Do you really think it was just the money that sent our last Super Bowl QB to the Jets? Of course not. He didn't want to be reminded of Larry Brown on a week-to-week basis by "Steeler Fans".
And selected members of the media, keep up the solid journalistic work of only reporting one side of the story. There's a reason why Dan Patrick covers sports and not world news.

10 comments:

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

I agree that the line hasn't always been superb, but Ben's not exactly exhibiting a quick release out there either.

I hate the guy, but one thing I always noticed about Tom Brady is that he's always able to take the snap, drop back, and dump the ball off to someone in the face of a rush instead of holding onto the ball for too long.

It's one thing if Ben doesn't have a quick release, but he's scrambling. But in the 2nd half against the Chargers, he was pretty immobile, held onto the ball a lot, and dare I say Maddox-esque.

One thing to consider here: Ben didn't play a lot in preseason, and we all know about the motorcycle accident and appendectomy.

So perhaps his conditioning isn't so good right now? He seems to get worse as the games go on. In the 2nd half we're seeing less scrambling and more holding onto the ball in an indecisive stupor.

I think he'll pull out of this slump. I don't think the guy absolutely forgot how to play football during the offseason. The thing is, it might take him an until next season to gain his bulk and strength back and to get back to being in peak condition.

Mai said...

I totally agree with louis about Ben possibly not being conditioned. He definitely falls apart the second half and struggles. One of his strengths has always been his mobility and we see this mobility in the first half but then he seems to get glued to the ground in the second half. I totally have faith that he'll come back from this and I think he's Definitely earned the time to do so. I don't think Anybody would debate had the Steelers not had Ben there would Not be One for the Thumb.

But in general, the losses have been a team effort. The Defense seems to have the same falling out in the second half, coming out strong for the first half and then seeming tired in the second - though of course this could strongly be related to the fact that the Offense doesn't stay on the field long enough to give them rest. The pass protection has never been great with the O-line, but Ben's mobility fit it well and made up for it's shortcomings. Now that Ben's struggling moving out of the pocket we're Really seeing the O-line's flaws. The recievers are slowly picking it up and getting on the same page with Ben, but with such a young recieving core as well as Hines missing preseason and practice camp and Ben not playing much in preseason it's taken them a while to click together.

And of course our special teams has been sorry and frustrating and no wonder after we let Chidi Iwoma and Quincy Morgan go, two of our best special team players in my opinion (wasn't Iwoma our special teams Captain last year??? WTF? I still don't understand that cut... I have yet to see Morey step up and fill the hole I feel Iwoma left). And now with Reid's injury - our only hope - our special teams is not looking to improve. Let's just hope it won't get any worse!

Bert said...

I'm not giving up on Ben.

I gave up listening to ESPN radio altogether ever since: 1. No "expert" said the Steelers could win 4 in a row to make the playoffs, and win 3 in a row on the road to go to the superbowl. and 2. no one, especially Cowherd acknowledges the Steelers Superbowl win, "it was the refs"--blah blah.

Patrick is a Bengals fan and hates the Steelers, and will pile on every chance he can.

Ben will pull out of the funk. It is not all him, I agree--the O line is awful. During the game Sunday night they showed in slow motion Faneca getting showed back into Ben.
The receivers all look slow, unable to get open.
The D can't stop a team from converting a third down.

I find myself blaming Cowher/Whisenhunt for the poor performance. Some of the play selections are horrible. 3rd and 16, do a screen pass? WTF? A fake punt against a very fast Defense at the 45?
1st and goal on the 6, up 7-0, let's throw the ball.
The Steelers look like they don't have the hunger they had last year. They still look like "hey we're the defending champs, we just have to show up and we'll win".

Let's hope they get their act together and start playing the way we know they are capable of playing.

noslenwerd said...

Great write up!

I completely agree with about 99% of what you said. Lets just hope he pulls out of this slump soon.

I think part of what made him great before, was the fact that he was able to succeed even when the O-line was doing poorly. Also another thing that made him great was his poise. He was so strong mentally and didn't get rattled easy. Lately he just looks scared to get hit, and doesn't have the same zip on the ball. And again I think thats mental, not physical.

Aside from that I feel that Karma is coming back around on him. I should have put this in the one blog you posted couple months ago about Pittsburgh Athlete encounters but, he is a prick to everyone when he is out in public. Long story but we will leave it at that :)

I think in the long run these few losses ill be good for him, and he will come back a stronger QB in every facet.

jweasy said...

I couldn't agree with you more on this. I live in Jacksonville and have always complained that we can't get ESPN radio here but from what I am hearing I should be glad I have to listen to the local guys bash their own team.

I think the biggest problem I have with other Steelers fans is that we turn on our own faster than anyone else does. Ben is aware of this I am sure so I have no doubt that he keeps himself at arm's length around fans. I realize that those of you who live in the 'burgh are inundated with Steeler talk all day long whereas I am not but seriously, let's not forget how much Ben has meant to this team the last couple seasons.

Mai said...

Totally agree with jweasy. It seems from what I've heard that many Pittsburgh fans are quite fickle and turn on players quickly, showing no loyalty. I think Ben's earned some leeway for a funk. I also would be careful calling complete strangers "pricks." I went to school with Ben and met him on occassion and he was super friendly. Whether or not he has changed since then, I don't know, but it's hard to judge someone when they're thrown into a city where football is life and suddenly they are harrassed non-stop with no privacy. I don't think I'd be friendly 24/7. Also, there was that Ben impersonator a while back...

Anyways, as a fan, I choose to be honest about my teams' flaws but to not pound them when they are already down. After all, they gave us a freaking Super Bowl last year, what more do we want from them??? Many fans don't even get that from their team...

Believe.

Anonymous said...

Neil O'Donnell still deserves to be reminded of Larry Brown on a weekly basis.

Anonymous said...

Raul,

This blog was better than anything I've read in the Post Gazette. Those guys are H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E.

It was nice of the Fat Boy to give you a complement, he doesn't do that very often. Obviously he knows writing talent when he sees it! Keep the good stuff coming. I'll be cancelling my PG subscription any day now!

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

I always heard Ben was a pretty decent guy in public from everyone I know that has met him.

I'm sure he probably gets annoyed when bazillions of people are bothering him constantly, so I'll forgive him if he doesn't act like Sean Casey (who I've met and is almost scary nice haha) 24/7.

But from what I've heard, he's never been rude to anyone. Maybe you caught him at 2 am at a bar when he was shitfaced drunk or something.

jweasy said...

Just another thought about being a fan...I had the misfortune of being at the MNF game in Jacksonville. It was the first Pittsburgh game in the 9 years that I have lived here and attended that we probably did not outnumber the Jags "fans". Now we used to get beat by them in J-ville when I first got here but never have I been treated so badly by any fan base. I mean the woman in front of me bitched me out because I told my friend that I thought they should throw to Ernest Wilford more instead of Reggie Williams. I understand that every fan base has wackos but just keep in mind that we never want to be classified in the "bad fans" category. Just remember what makes our team and city so special is that the Steelers are part of our culture, an extension of the city. I just think it's important right now to show why we're the best fans in the league...cause we will support win, lose or draw.