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.