Ben Roethlisberger played pretty lights out on Sunday night, particularly in the first quarter when he started the game completing his first 12 passes.
It’s no coincidence they built a big lead in the first quarter. The Steelers team goes as Ben goes. The defense and running game aren’t near consistent enough to overcome a bad game by the franchise quarterback.
With Ben (and the offense) playing better, I think the offensive coordinator deserves some credit. I think that Haley should be back next season, and I realize that plenty of people disagree with me (including our head blogger, steeldad).
I’ll admit I wanted Haley from the time we moved on from Arians. I loved that Haley pounded the rock with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles in KC, and aired it out in Arizona. I thought that it showed he works to his team’s strengths, rather than having any hangups about what the team’s identity “should” be.
I’ll also say that has nothing to do with me wanting him to stay. I’d tell you I was wrong, if I felt like I was.
I hated Bruce Arians’ offense, because he caused the most important player on the team to get beat into the ground. Haley realizes he has to protect Ben, and his offense is doing that.
Now, I realize that there’s plenty of other factors that are contributing to the offense’s success. Heath Miller has taken some time to get healthy, Le’Veon Bell has had to learn on the fly, Kelvin Beachum has had to grow into the left tackle position, etc.
I said this earlier this season in regards to Haley… Prior to Ben getting injured against Kansas City last season, he was playing some of the best football of his career and was a serious MVP candidate. Once he returned, he never looked the same, and I wondered if he wasn’t completely healthy.
This season, Ben was without Heath Miller and really any running game whatsoever early on. He seemed to be pressing too much, and turned the ball over a lot as a result.
I looked at Ben’s numbers over the past 2 seasons, but removed the games after the 2012 KC game when I felt he was injured. I also removed the first 3 games of this season when Ben didn’t have Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell on the field at the same time (week 4 against the Vikings was the first time).
That resulted in me removing 7 games from Ben’s last 2 seasons. In the remaining games Ben was 482 of 730 for a 66% completion percentage. He threw for 5,354 yards; good for 268 per game (including the KC game when he left early). He threw 38 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. That’s a QB rating of 98.7.
In those 20 games calculated the team average 24.3 points per game, which isn’t too shabby. In most season that would rank you around 12-15th. This season (with scoring up) it would rank 16th.
Maybe I’m skewing numbers too much in order to make my point, but I think that any offensive mind would struggle to score points without a healthy Ben, or without really any weapons besides Antonio Brown.
Ben, and the offense have only seemed to get stronger as the season has progressed. There’s been a lot more no huddle added to the offense where Ben is calling the shots, and I’ve give Ben plenty of credit for that, but he’s still calling Todd Haley’s plays.
The media wants to make so much out of a shaky relationship between Ben and Todd Haley, but in 20 of the 27 games they’ve been working together (about 3/4 of the time), Ben has played at an elite level.
I’m curious to hear from readers on this one in the comments. If you disagree with me, please, tell me why, but please read some of the points I’ve laid out here first.