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DIESELMAN
06-07-2006, 07:19 PM
PITTSBURGH ? Ben Roethlisberger set Super Bowl records for being the youngest and, according to statistics, the worst winning quarterback. But in spring drills with the Steelers, Roethlisberger?s been a new man on both counts.

http://media.scout.com/Media/Image/31/319309.jpg

?He?s been tremendous this offseason,? said quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple. ?I think he?s really stepped up as a leader and is controlling the offense and he knows what?s happening.?

Roethlisberger?s leadership is evident. Entering his third season, he?s been in the middle of it all this spring. No longer a role player on Jerome Bettis?s team, Roethlisberger is the hub of activity. Coaches joke with him during the stretch to begin practice, and at the end of practice Roethlisberger runs sprints with his offensive linemen. From top to bottom, the Pittsburgh Steelers are his team.

During practice, Roethlisberger has shown off an explosive arm that?s allowed his receivers to run deep with confidence, as opposed to coming back for passes as they had throughout the 2005 stretch drive when Roethlisberger played with a broken right thumb.

?The thumb?s healthy and that obviously helps,? said Roethlisberger. ?My whole body feels good. I feel healthy.?

But he won?t agree that the ball is exploding off his right hand this spring.

?The ball is getting there better, but I think a lot of it has to do with knowing what guys are doing,? he said. ?It might just look like it?s getting there faster. I don?t know; it might be getting there faster, but it might also just be a perception.?

The numbers say it?s no perception. Roethlisberger has consistently thrown 65 to 70-yard deep passes this spring. That?s almost 10 yards further than his deep throws in the second half of last season.

After missing four midseason games with knee injuries, Roethlisberger returned for a Monday night game against Indianapolis and broke his right thumb, and then he aggravated the injury the following week. A painkilling shot would?ve numbed the fingers on his passing hand, so Roethlisberger played the rest of the season with a protective splint under a glove on his right hand.

?It was excruciating,? he said. ?I couldn?t throw a ball without a glove. I couldn?t squeeze it. There were practices where I just had to hold the ball in my palm. It was a broken thumb. Every time I took a snap it hurt.?

He wouldn?t blame his poor Super Bowl statistics on the injury. After all, Roethlisberger compiled two of his top four passer ratings last season in the AFC playoffs. But in the Super Bowl, Roethlisberger?s passer rating of 22.6 was the lowest ever compiled by a winning quarterback, and the worst of Roethlisberger?s two-year career.

?A lot of people make a big deal about it, but, to me, we won the game,? he said. ?Obviously I did things that probably weren?t the best, but I also, in my opinion, did some things to help the team a little bit, too.

?The thing is: I always know I can play better. I?ll never be satisfied with how I play. I could complete every pass and have a perfect passer rating and I still won?t be satisfied. But passer rating is just another statistic. To me it?s not a big deal. My goal wasn?t to have a better passer rating; I wanted to play a better game.?

The statistics haven?t hurt his popularity, which has soared since the Super Bowl.

?It?s harder to go places,? he said. ?It?s also changed the number of opportunities that I?ve been presented with and the people that I?ve been able to meet and know. The other stuff just goes with the territory.?

Whipple expects his pupil to step into the next level of quarterback play in 2006. He sees the strong arm, but believes it?s simply a result of a veteran who better understands the value of rest. Whipple says his quarterback?s improvement has more to do with maturity.

?He?s being a consummate pro,? Whipple said. ?I just think the experience from last season has been definitely a positive one. Except for the confidence, which he?s always had, I have not seen anything that would say he?s going to take a backseat next year. Some people say, ?Well he won the Super Bowl as the youngest guy,? but that won?t change him.

?Look, Tom Brady?s got three (rings); (Joe) Montana?s got four; the old Steelers got four. That?s motivation enough. Not that he?s thinking about the fourth one right now. He hasn?t even been thinking about the season, but rather the O.T.As because we spend a lot of time in the offseason coming in and working on some of the things he wanted to get better at, looking at some things on his own.

?He has always been a hard worker. I have not seen anything other than a drive to step his game up another level.?

By: Jim Wexell
SteelCityInsider.com
Date: Jun 7, 2006

Black@Gold Forever32
06-07-2006, 08:20 PM
Thats good to hear. Ben has exceeded all of my expectations of him so far. I could care less what his rating in the Super Bowl was. We won and thats all that matters. But for the naysayers out there. Ben had great QB ratings in the three playoff games before the Super Bowl. So even though Ben didn't play well in the Super Bowl. The Steelers wouldn't have made it to the Super Bowl without Ben.

This upcoming season will be Ben's third. The third year is usually when a QB really blossoms. Plus the main thing Ben is 100 percent healthy. Ben is going to tear it up this year.

I.C. Lights
06-07-2006, 08:26 PM
Right on! The great thing about being a good team is that some players can step up when others aren't playing their best. These stats on Ben fail to show how he steps up exactly when he needs to. The only stat that should matter is his win/loss ratio - but, I guess our haters know better than to bring that up!

SteelerzGirl
06-07-2006, 09:54 PM
I'm lovin' Ben's hard worth ethic and motivation to turn it up a notch! :smile:

Thanks for posting the article, Diesel.

Suitanim
06-08-2006, 08:33 AM
It may be too early to start worrying about this, but I'm worried about it anyway...The only words we don't want to hear are "Fair Market Value" from Ben's agent. If we do, he will be gone.

OX1947
06-08-2006, 11:03 AM
^you're nuts, Big Ben will be a Steeler for the next decade at the least. They will sign him for whatever he wants.....

SteelerFanInCA
06-08-2006, 11:05 AM
It may be too early to start worrying about this, but I'm worried about it anyway...The only words we don't want to hear are "Fair Market Value" from Ben's agent. If we do, he will be gone.
I'm not sure if Ben would be gone. I know we don't make a habit of doing so but Ben is one player we might definitley have to break the bank for. All those years of suffering with terribles QB's and to let him go that easily? This guy has the potential to get us a few more rings. I hope the FO is thinking the same way.

Lyn
06-08-2006, 11:27 AM
Great article. thanks Diesel!~