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Old 08-22-2009, 11:14 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_639658.html#
By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, August 23, 2009

Philip Rivers?

I'm still reeling from my recent radio interview with Aaron Schatz of profootballoutsiders.com. The topic was NFL quarterbacks. Schatz said the top four are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Rivers, and that Ben Roethlisberger doesn't belong in the conversation.

Wow.

If someone as knowledgeable and respected as Schatz — his Football Outsiders Almanac is a must-read — doesn't include Roethlisberger in that conversation, you have to wonder how many others fail to comprehend Roethlisberger's greatness.

How is this possible, five years into such a decorated career?

I like Philip Rivers. He's very good. He had 34 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions last season. But if you polled all 32 NFL general managers and more than one said he would choose Rivers over Roethlisberger, I'd be stunned (and I'd want Chargers GM A.J. Smith injected with truth serum).

If you polled the 32 defensive coordinators and asked who would cause them more sleepless hours — Rivers or Roethlisberger — I'd be doubly stunned if two said Rivers.

Roethlisberger isn't merely great. He has "changed the position," as teammate Charlie Batch puts it. We're talking about a 6-foot-5, 241-pound mammoth with a cannon arm, an uncanny ability to extend plays with his feet and a flair for the biggest moments.

There has never been anyone quite like him.

I'm not saying Roethlisberger already is an all-time great. It's too early for that. I am saying that his first five years were historically successful and that he is a unique player for his position.

A look at the 23 quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame reveals that none is as tall or as heavy as Roethlisberger. The closest in height are Troy Aikman and Dan Marino at 6-4. The closest in weight is Marino at 228 pounds — and neither of those guys could move like Roethlisberger.

Just for kicks, I looked at the 19 linebackers in the Hall of Fame and found that only three outweighed Roethlisberger and only one (6-7 Ted Hendricks) was taller.

Now you know why Steelers coach Mike Tomlin calls Roethlisberger a "freak."

Now everybody wants one — and the likes of Rivers, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco appear to be built of similar material. Time will tell.

Those who undervalue Roethlisberger invariably point to his alleged lack of gaudy statistics. Here's the thing: He has gaudy statistics, even after an injury-plagued season in which he threw for 17 TDs and 15 interceptions.

It depends on which stats you emphasize, and as Steelers receiver Hines Ward says: "This ain't fantasy football."

Roethlisberger owns the seventh-best passer rating in NFL history (89.43), the most wins (51) through five seasons since 1950 and the second-best winning percentage (.728), including playoffs, among active quarterbacks. Brady is first at .789.

Roethlisberger's postseason record is 8-2, third in NFL history (10 or more games) behind Brady (14-3) and Bart Starr (9-1).

Manning is 7-8, Rivers 3-3.

Roethlisberger has engineered 17 fourth-quarter wins, including Super Bowl XLIII and the 92-yard TD drive in Baltimore last season. How many other quarterbacks, behind that offensive line, beat that defense in that situation?

And yes, he has two Super Bowl rings.

Finally, a stat for the geeks: yards-per-attempt. An excellent Web site called coldhardfootballfacts.com says yards-per-attempt is "the single most important indicator of success in football. ... Guys with a high yards-per-attempt win games."

Guys with a high YPA also aren't dinking the ball downfield, so for anyone who thinks Roethlisberger's flashy passer rating is built on safe throws within a rigid system, think again.

The three modern-era leaders in YPA, according to the site (minimum: 1,500 attempts):

1. Kurt Warner - 8.04

2. Steve Young - 7.98

3. Roethlisberger - 7.86

The six all-time leaders (who have accounted for 17 pro titles):

1. Otto Graham - 8.63

2. Sid Luckman - 8.42

3. Norm Van Brocklin - 8.16

4. Warner - 8.04

5. Young - 7.98

6. Roethlisberger - 7.86

Roethlisberger's vital stats took a hit in 2008 because he was injured and couldn't throw an effective deep ball for several weeks. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Roethlisberger was hurt worse than most knew.

"The Jacksonville game, we were in the ballroom at the hotel, at about 2 p.m., throwing to see if he could play," Arians said. "He was throwing at (multiple angles, including side-arm) to see how he could release the ball. I didn't think there was any chance. Well, he threw for 300 yards and took us down in the last seconds to win.

"He never ceases to amaze me."

The issue really boils down to this: If I had to put what's left of my 401(k) on one active quarterback coming through in the final minutes of a big game, I'd have to think long and hard between Brady and Roethlisberger.

Philip Rivers wouldn't cross my mind.

Joe Starkey can be reached at jstarkey@tribweb.com or 412-320-7810.
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Old 08-23-2009, 12:30 AM   #2
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Default Re: Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

Nice read, and finally a sportswriter that gets it. I'm so sick of the man love that people have for Brady. I WOULD take Big Ben OVER ANY OTHER QB IN THE LEAGUE!!!!! (Lol just wanted to emphasize that). He might not have the fantasy numbers, but he has the one stat that matters. Wins and SB titles. You can have your Tom, Tony, or Brett that will get you all the fantasy numbers in the world, but I'll take my Big Ben when the tough times come and we need a drive to win a SB and not a Fantasy Football playoff game.
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Old 08-23-2009, 01:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

I don't agree with this read. Rivers is a more complete QB at the moment and works better within his system. For whatever reason, Ben always seems to slow with his reads and anticipation. People always praise him for extending the play and that because of a poor o-line, but that is more a function of him just not being an effective pocket passer and not being able to know where to go with the ball.

Don't get me wrong Ben is still a more effective passer than 90% of QBs in the NFL. However, until he learns how to become a better pocket passer and get the ball out quicker, he won't be in Rivers class.
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Old 08-23-2009, 03:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandy90 View Post
I don't agree with this read. Rivers is a more complete QB at the moment and works better within his system. For whatever reason, Ben always seems to slow with his reads and anticipation. People always praise him for extending the play and that because of a poor o-line, but that is more a function of him just not being an effective pocket passer and not being able to know where to go with the ball.

Don't get me wrong Ben is still a more effective passer than 90% of QBs in the NFL. However, until he learns how to become a better pocket passer and get the ball out quicker, he won't be in Rivers class.
Let me know when Rivers actually wins something. And please spare me the "Ben has a great defense to work with" argument, because Rivers has been a member of top to bottom one of the most talented rosters (if not THE most talented) in the league for the last several years now. Thanks.
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Old 08-23-2009, 03:46 AM   #5
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Default Re: Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

Let them say what they want, the truth of the matter is that Ben is perfect for for the Steelers. They win games and Superbowls because of what he brings to the team, that's all that I care about. He still has plenty of years to start putting up gaudy numbers, although I'd rather he keep winning Superbowls if I was forced to choose one or the other.

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Originally Posted by Mandy90 View Post
I don't agree with this read. Rivers is a more complete QB at the moment and works better within his system.
Considering the goal of any NFL team system is to win, I am going to have disagree with your read.

The whole pocket passer mantra is old and ignorant, Ben scrambles out of the pocket to make plays, and when he does he often makes the opposing defenses look absolutely silly. If anyone needs an example of what happens to a god-like pocket passer when he is overwhelmed by a superior pass rush, Superbowl XLII should have been more than enough.
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Old 08-23-2009, 06:48 AM   #6
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Default Re: Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

It simply amazes me how some people still dis Ben after all he has done with steelers. There is not another qb who could have his success with our o-line. Ben makes big plays when it matters most. As far as the so called experts go they just can't except the fact that Ben is one of the best qb's in the game PERIOD!
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Old 08-23-2009, 06:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

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Originally Posted by sharkweek View Post
The whole pocket passer mantra is old and ignorant, Ben scrambles out of the pocket to make plays, and when he does he often makes the opposing defenses look absolutely silly. If anyone needs an example of what happens to a god-like pocket passer when he is overwhelmed by a superior pass rush, Superbowl XLII should have been more than enough.
Any QB against a rush like that is going to be rendered ineffective, it doesn't matter who it is or what they do. Does the Eagles game from last year come to mind? Ben's headless chicken routine didn't work because they were on him in less than two seconds (much like Brady in the Superbowl) before he could even think of running outside the pocket to 'make them look silly'. So Brady's lack of play-making ability outside of the pocket had nothing to do with his ineffectiveness in that game, because you could have put Ben or Michael Vick in there and they still would have been pummeled just as bad because the rush was that heavy.
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Old 08-23-2009, 07:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandy90 View Post
I don't agree with this read. Rivers is a more complete QB at the moment and works better within his system. For whatever reason, Ben always seems to slow with his reads and anticipation. People always praise him for extending the play and that because of a poor o-line, but that is more a function of him just not being an effective pocket passer and not being able to know where to go with the ball.

Don't get me wrong Ben is still a more effective passer than 90% of QBs in the NFL. However, until he learns how to become a better pocket passer and get the ball out quicker, he won't be in Rivers class.
(The article is from last year but it provides an effective rebuttal to your point of view. The QB that does not belong in the conversation is Rivers not Big Ben. - mesa)

It's official: Big Ben one of the best

Cold, Hard Football Facts for September 30, 2008
http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com..._the_best.html

Big Ben is one of the all-time leaders in two of the most important stats in football.

And now it’s official.

The NFL requires that quarterbacks attempt a minimum 1,500 passes to qualify for official league records. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger entered Monday night’s 23-20 overtime victory against Baltimore with 1,495 attempts.

He tossed 24 passes against the Ravens, along the way topping the 1,500-attempt-mark needed to receive the good-pigskinkeeping seal of approval. His career stat line now looks like this:

* 961 of 1,519 (63.3%), 12,311 yards, 8.10 YPA, 88 TDs, 56 INTs, and a 92.52 passer rating

Roethlisberger has been a Cold, Hard Football Facts favorite since he exploded onto the scene as a rookie in 2004, leading Pittsburgh to a 15-1 record and a spot in the AFC title game, and then winning a Super Bowl with the Steelers in his sophomore season.

After all, you don’t win consistently in the NFL without strong play at quarterback. So when the Steelers were suddenly winning in historic fashion (the 2004 Steelers are one of the few teams in history to win 15 games), the natural place to turn for answers was the passing game.

And it turned out that Roethlisberger’s historic string of victories in his first two years was accompanied by historic passing efficiency numbers
– especially for such a young player.

Now in his fifth year, Roethlisberger officially enters the record books and finds himself among some of the very best passers in the history of the game. If he can repeat his first four-plus years in the league over the next four-plus season, he’s a bona fide first ballot Hall of Famer.

Big Ben No. 5 all-time in passer rating
As of today, Roethlisberger boasts a career passer rating of 92.52.

It’s a number that puts him – officially – at No. 5 on the list, one spot behind No. 4 Tom Brady (92.91) and one spot ahead of No. 6 Joe Montana (92.26). In our book (yes, our book has lots of pretty pictures) that’s damn good company.

Here is the top of the all-time leaderboard in career passer rating:

1. Steve Young – 96.81
2. Peyton Manning – 94.25
3. Kurt Warner – 93.52
4. Tom Brady – 92.91
5. Ben Roethlisberger – 92.52

It’s no coincidence, by the way, that every player in the Top 5 has won at least one Super Bowl. Passer rating has a lot of critics, because it’s so unwieldy. But it’s also a pretty good measure of success and typically has a high correlation to winning football games.

It’s no coincidence, for example, that the Steelers had gone a quarter-century without a Super Bowl victory before Big Ben arrived on the scene. Efficient passers win football games.

Big Ben No. 5 all-time in passing yards per attempt
Roethlisberger’s top-five spot in YPA is probably more impressive than his top-five spot on the all-time passer rating list.

After all, YPA seems to have a higher correlation to winning than does the more complex passer rating formula. The difference is not too great. In fact, the two often move in lock-step (just look at the example of Big Ben, No. 5 all time in both categories). But YPA often seems to be a more telling stat and it tends to cut across different eras more often than passer rating (which clearly favors contemporary passers).

Yards per attempt is also an attractive indicator because it's so cut and dry that even the casual fan can comprehend what it means. Plus, there is probably no individual stat in all of sports with such a high correlation to winning (if you know of one, please share it with us).

Here is the top of the all-time leaderboard in yards per attempt:

1. Otto Graham – 8.63 YPA
2. Sid Luckman – 8.42
3. Norm Van Brocklin – 8.16
4. Kurt Warner – 8.14
5. Ben Roethlisberger – 8.10

All were champions. In fact, the top three were multiple champions, and No. 1 on the list is the greatest champion.

The Old School factor
There’s another reason Big Ben stands out in the eyes of the Cold, Hard Football Facts – another reason why, in our rare dalliances with emotions and feelings – we like Big Ben.

At the risk of tossing out a cliché (one we’ll quickly polish into a shiny Cold, Hard Football Fact with supporting data), Roethlisberger is an Old School quarterback – a rare modern manifestation of the type of passer you might have seen in an earlier, mud-and-spittle era of pro football.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, quarterbacks generally handed the ball off more often than they passed it – just like Big Ben does today. But when they did pass, it was typically a high-risk, high-reward downfield throw – much like those passes that Big Ben throws today.

(Of course, the true romantic might envision Big Ben back in the 1940s, slinging the ball down field on offense and then muscling up on defense a la Sammy Baugh. Big Ben certainly seems built like a linebacker, while Baugh, one of the best passers in history, was also a great defensive back.)

To put Big Ben in our comfort zone – that is, to discuss him through the pigskin prism of raw data – Roethlisberger is a throwback performer statistically.

In recent years, offenses have focused on short, high-percentage, low-risk passes more than they did in the past. Think the Joe Montana-Tom Brady school of passing theory, which was made possible by the rule changes of 1978 that spawned the Live Ball Era. (Brady and Montana might be as close statistically as any two passers in history.)

Montana entered the NFL in 1979, just in time to take advantage of the new rules, and under the right coach to take take advantage of the new rules, Paul Brown disciple Bill Walsh

Before Montana, teams tended to throw down the field more aggressively. Montana parlayed new-school offense into four Super Bowl victories and a reputation as the best ever at his position. Brady, before his injury this year, had taken the conservative strategy even further, turning a low YPA average (especially before 2007) and an extaordinarily low INT rate into an historically high passer rating and three Super Bowl victories.

So in recent years, per-attempt averages have generally declined in the NFL, while passer ratings (which reward high completion percentages and low INT rates) have skyrocketed.

Just three active players, for example, are in the top 15 all time in YPA (Warner, Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning). But every player in the Top 20 all time in passer rating began their careers in the Live Ball Era (1978-present). Fifteen of those in the Top 20 are still active.

Roethlisberger is the rare player high on both lists. The old-school style of the Pittsburgh offense has helped him put up a YPA average similar to those seen in the 1950s. But the fact that defenders can no longer prison-shank receivers, offensive linemen and even quarterbacks, has allowed Roethlisberger to translate that high YPA into the high passer rating more typical of contemporary football, too.
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Old 08-23-2009, 07:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

**contintution of the article*** - mesa
The risk of being Ben
Roethlisberger is not a perfect quarterback. Of course, nobody is.

In Big Ben’s case, he takes too many sacks and throws an inordinate number of picks relative to the number of times he drops back to pass.

Roethlisberger has attempted 1,519 passes in his career. But he’s actually dropped back to pass 1,680 times – if you include the 161 sacks he’s suffered (an average of about 40 per year and nearly three per game). He’s also thrown 55 INTs.

So that’s a total of 216 negative pass plays (sacks + INTs) in just 1,680 dropbacks – or a negative pass play on 12.86 percent of every drop back. That’s a high number of negative pass plays by modern standards. To put it into perspective, compare Roethlisberger to the two players widely regarded as the best contemporary quarterbacks:

* Big Ben suffers a negative pass play on 12.86 percent of dropbacks (216 in 1,680 dropbacks)
* Brady suffers a negative pass play on 7.49 percent of dropbacks (289 in 3,856 dropbacks)
* Manning suffers a negative pass play on 6.39 percent of dropbacks (353 in 5,721 dropbacks)

The high number of negative pass plays certainly reinforces Roethlisberger's Old School cred. After all, negative pass plays were far more common before the Live Ball Era, when defenses were given greater leeway to play aggressively. Old School-cred or not, they're called negative pass plays for a reason: you don't want 'em.

But the greater concern for Steelers fans should be the declining numbers.

Big Ben’s average per attempt has consistently declined, from 8.88 in his rookie year of 2004 and 8.89 in his Super Bowl-winning year of 2005, to 7.81 last year and a career low 7.69 so far this year.

He’s on pace for just 16 TD passes this year, which would be a career low. And his 93.3 passer rating so far in 2008 would be the lowest except for his 2006 season that was marred by so many on- and off-the-field issues and injuries. Pittsburgh's once-proud offensive line has struggled this year, too: Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times in four games, which puts him on pace to be taken down a career-high 60 times.

They’re trends that can be overcome. As Big Ben matures (he’s still only 26), maybe he’ll learn to become the more conservative, high-percentage, low-risk, quick-release passer that defines the modern game. Maybe the Steelers will find a few more weapons to put around him – much like the Patriots did in 2007 for Brady, with historic results.

But for now, Steelers fans will have to settle for a quarterback who stands today among the most productive ever.

And that’s official.
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Old 08-23-2009, 07:47 AM   #10
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Default Re: Starkey: Big Ben one of a kind

If you are going to make an argument based on statistics then i'll say that Rivers has a higher career QB rating, a better TD to INT ratio, the same completion percentage, gets sacked wayyy less, and a career AVG of 7.5 - .4 lower than Ben.
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