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Old 10-31-2008, 12:34 AM   #1
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Default Big Ben Standing Up - So Far - to Weekly Poundings

PITTSBURGH (AP) -When the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl three seasons ago, Ben Roethlisberger's protectors included All-Pro guard Alan Faneca, All-Pro center Jeff Hartings, plus a first-round and a second-round draft pick.

When Roethlisberger went under center Sunday during a 21-14 loss to the Giants - sometimes, the only time during a play he was on his feet - there were new offensive line starters at four of five positions from a year ago.

Right tackle Darnell Stapleton? Wasn't drafted out of Rutgers two years ago. Right tackle Willie Colon? The former Hofstra lineman had game-long problems with Giants pass rusher Justin Tuck and was called for holding to nullify a touchdown pass.

Center Justin Hartwig? Was cut after last season by Carolina. Left tackle Max Starks? Was buried deep on the bench until Marvel Smith was hurt. Left guard Chris Kemoeatu? As Faneca's backup, he started only two games in three seasons until this year.

Despite playing behind a reworked line, Roethlisberger is holding up so far as the Steelers (5-2) lead the AFC North despite that Giants loss. The question is whether he can hold up under nine more weeks of regular season pounding like what he's gotten so far.

"We are 5-2, and he's a big reason why," coach Mike Tomlin said.

Roethlisberger has been sacked 23 times and is on pace to go down 53 times, which would tie Cliff Stoudt's 1983 club record. In the last 2 seasons, Roethlisberger has been sacked a remarkable 116 times; only Jon Kitna (129) has gone done more times, according to STATS, Inc.

For comparison's sake, Marc Bulger (108) is the only other QB to be sacked more than 100 times since 2006. Donovan McNabb, the No. 4 most-sacked quarterback since then, has gone down 77 times - almost 40 fewer than Roethlisberger.

Kitna and Bulger, of course, play for losing teams that often fall behind early and must throw to get back into games. Roethlisberger plays on a strong team that runs the ball as much as it throws.

Still, the poundings go on and on for Roethlisberger, who has been sacked three or more times in four games this season, including a season's high eight against the Eagles. The Giants sacked him five times and put him to the turf twice as many times as that on plays he wasn't sacked.

"We have to do a better job of protecting, recognizing how to get the ball out of our hands and running those plays, and it's something we work on every day," Tomlin said. "We will just continue to work and hopefully alleviate that problem."

The question isn't how Roethlisberger stands up to all this pressure, but how he stands up at all, even if he brings on some sacks by holding the ball too long.

"It's average," Roethlisberger said of his midseason health. "I'm still standing. I can still play if I have to. I've got the regular bumps and bruises."

He also has a slightly separated shoulder, one that has bothered him since the second week of the season and now causes him to regularly take off practices.

Being forced to throw on the run and while under pressure is taking another toll; his interceptions are up. Roethlisberger has seven in seven games, four against the Giants, after having only 11 while throwing 32 TD passes last season.

Not that he'll get much injury sympathy in a Steelers locker room in which running back Rashard Mendenhall (shoulder), guard Kendall Simmons (ankle), long snapper Greg Warren (knee), quarterback Charlie Batch (broken collarbone), and punter Daniel Sepulveda (knee) already are out for the season.

There's more.

Running back Willie Parker (knee) hasn't played in more than a month, cornerback Bryant McFadden (broken arm) will be out weeks longer, Smith (back) is in considerable pain and hasn't played in two games, and defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) was out for an extended stretch. Now, safety Ryan Clark is dealing with a dislocated shoulder that probably will keep him out of the Monday night game in Washington.

"It seems like this is one of the most injured years for teams around the NFL," Roethlisberger said. "We've got a lot of beat-up guys. It's going to be tough."

Another worry, he said, is, "When you start losing guys, you never know what you've got left."

Sometimes the Steelers have found their bench was deeper than expected. Third-down Mewelde Moore was the only healthy running back after Parker and Mendenhall went down and has responded with 303 yards and four touchdowns, one on a reception, in three starts. But the Steelers are beginning to get very thin in the secondary and the offensive line.

Still, as tight end Heath Miller said, it's obvious what the Steelers must do to stay atop their division with games remaining against the Redskins (6-2), Colts (3-4), Patriots (5-2), Cowboys (5-3), Ravens (4-3), Titans (7-0) and Browns (3-4).

"The first priority is to protect Ben," Miller said.

I've never played football, so don't know as much as you guys do, but what it is so friggin hard 2 protect 1 QB? I'm sure it's not as easy as it looks from the sideview, but I still wonder, u know? If the other guys, for example the Giants linemen, could do it, why is it not possible 4 our guys.
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: Big Ben Standing Up - So Far - to Weekly Poundings

That is one record I hope Ben does not break hopefully our line will play better and give him some protection and he needs to get rid of the ball quicker when he don't have a receiver.
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Old 10-31-2008, 11:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Big Ben Standing Up - So Far - to Weekly Poundings

Protecting the QB is more complex than just the O line. You see guys like Eli Manning getting rid of the ball, while Ben hangs onto it, scrambles and tries to make plays.

From an O line point of view, its all about protection schemes, how long the play takes to develop, lineman technique, ability and desire.

Some of our plays take too long to develop and the linemen cant sustain their blocks that long. Other plays, the linemen use bad technique or are just athletically inferior to the rushers and finally I see some where a guy doesnt seem intensely focused enough to compete with the guy across from him.

Drafting better linemen makes your line better. Coaching up the poor line talent you have makes them better and running plays that suit the strengths or hides the weaknesses of your line will reduce sack totals. I see none of those 3 things being done.
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Old 10-31-2008, 01:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: Big Ben Standing Up - So Far - to Weekly Poundings

In past years Ben oftentimes made plays only after he had skipped out of the pocket and was on the run laterally. In fact, his play was often superior in those instances. He would then be able to find the open receiver who paradoxically was now able to get open with the additional time Ben gained. We joked about it saying that Ben's brain only worked when his feet were moving.

Until this year, Ben has always excelled at throwing on the run. That was always one of his strengths. The problem is that he is not "throwing on the run" this season as in the past. Rather, he seems to be trying to stay in the pocket with his protection longer, slipping out or stepping up, but, not really "running" laterally.

He seems to have, not necessarily lost that ability, but changed his approach. This gives him less time to deliver the ball when he does find the open receiver. If you compare this year's Ben to previous years you will see that he has changed his method of buying time.

Granted the old Ben seemed to be one of inexperience and simply trying to escape. By contrast the new Ben seems to be more of the preferred classic Manning-type escape. The jury is still out whether the new or old method is superior, but, it is not the same. Check out the tapes and compare this year's Ben with last year - the review is very telling.
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Old 10-31-2008, 01:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Big Ben Standing Up - So Far - to Weekly Poundings

Basically, on days when we have no running game (i.e. when Parker is laying one of his 29-yards-on-16-carries stink bombs that he tends to have about every third game), we'll give up 5+ sacks -- not only because we end up facing 3rd-and-9 all day, but also because the defense knows what's coming and can really attack us.

Even with our "bad" offensive line, we don't allow very many sacks when the running game is working. Sure, we had five last week, but a lot of them were at the end in desperation mode. It's been that way for years. Just look at Willie Parker's game log and compare it with Roethlisberger's over the last 3 years:


On days when he runs the ball decent, Ben's sack totals are about average. When Parker has a shitty game, Ben's sack total just about doubles.
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Old 10-31-2008, 02:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Big Ben Standing Up - So Far - to Weekly Poundings

How ironic that this is entitled "Big Ben Standing Up..."
It was suggested to me that for Halloween that I wear a #7 jersey and glue astro turf to the back and go as Ben. Needless-to-say, I had nothing for that, so I laughed ....then I cried.
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Old 10-31-2008, 05:06 PM   #7

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Default Re: Big Ben Standing Up - So Far - to Weekly Poundings

Originally Posted by SteelersMongol View Post
I've never played football, so don't know as much as you guys do, but what it is so friggin hard 2 protect 1 QB? I'm sure it's not as easy as it looks from the sideview, but I still wonder, u know? If the other guys, for example the Giants linemen, could do it, why is it not possible 4 our guys.
In any one on one matchup of a D-Linemen vs. an O-Linemen, the D-Linemen will almost ALWAYS win in about 3-4 seconds time. If they pull a nice move, they can get by in 1-2 seconds. The D-Linemen have the advantage, just like in open-field tackling, the runner has the advantate.

The O-Linemen has to account for the D-Linemen.

And on top of that, with all these crazy overloads and zone blitzes, you have no idea who's coming. That makes you tentative and unconfident and you don't play as well once you get your one-on-one matchup.
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