Ripe for the pickin'
By Cold, Hard Football Facts contributor Charles Johnston
Ben Roethlisberger is the NFL Rookie of the Year, he dates Natalie Gulbis, one of the hottest chiquitas in America and, oh yeah, he's never lost an NFL game.
Roethlisberger is, in other words, a pop-culture icon and a pretty fair country quarterback when compared with the journeymen signal callers most teams are forced to employ. In fact, when the Cold, Hard Football Facts stare across the Qutang Gorge of talent that divides Brady, Manning and McNabb from Boller, McCown and Rattay, it's easy to see why Steelers fans have embraced "Big Ben." He's performed surprisingly well and helped keep Pittsburgh from falling into the abyss of NFL also-rans.
Roethlisberger manages the Steelers' offense effectively and has quickly (and therapeutically) helped ease Pittsburgh's painful memories of frauds like Kordell Stewart (three INTs in 2001-02 AFC title game) and Neil O'Donnell (two picks returned for scores in Super Bowl XXX). And, say Steelers fans and "pundits," he rarely makes the dreaded "rookie mistake." Just look at his 11 interceptions. Seventeen quarterbacks, including many of the biggest names in the sport, threw more interceptions than did the rookie Roethlisberger this year.
But the Cold, Hard Football Facts, as they so often do, operate in a different time zone than fans and "pundits." In fact, the Cold, Hard Football Facts show that Big Ben strikes a sour note more frequently than most quarterbacks in the NFL. Let's put it this way: the "pundits" were surprised by Roethlisberger's rookie "jitters" and the two interceptions he tossed in Pittsburgh's 20-17 playoff victory over the Jets. The Cold, Hard Football Facts were not.
In fact, Roethlisberger has been tossing INTs at a pretty quick clip all season. He's also one of the most frequently sacked quarterbacks in football. But his frequent rookie mistakes, which chimed so loudly against the Jets, have been muffled all season by a coaching staff that has wrapped young Roethlisberger in pretty little pink blankie each time's he stepped on the field.
We looked at the Pittsburgh attack and compared Roethlisberger to all 34 quarterbacks in the league who appeared in at least eight games and attempted 200 or more passes. Here's what we found:
• Roethlisberger was coddled by an offense that ran the ball 618 times this season (or 38.6 attempts per game). That's No. 1 in the NFL by a considerable margin. Denver was second with just 534 attempts (33.4 attempts per game). New England ran more often than it passed and ranked 7th in rushing. But the Patriots attemped just 32.8 attempts per game.
• Roethlisberger attempted just 295 passes, or dead last in the NFL with 21.1 attempts per game.
• Roethlisberger's interception rate of 3.72 percent (or one INT every 26.8 attempts) placed him 25th on our list of 34 quarterbacks. In other words, only nine quarterbacks threw interceptions more frequently. Compare that with Tom Brady, who posted the highest interception rate of his career this year, 2.95 percent (or one INT every 33.9 attempts.)
• Roethlisberger has taken 30 sacks this year, or one for every 10.8 times he went back to pass. Only four quarterbacks in football were sacked with more frequency. The club-footed Drew Bledsoe, for example, was sacked just once every 13.1 times he went back to pass. Brady, meanwhile, was sacked just once every 19.2 attempts.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts are quite clear: Long before glove-gate, thumb-gate and his two INT performance against the Jets, Roethlisberger has been prone to the "rookie mistake." If the Patriots can force Pittsburgh's coaching staff to remove Big Ben's pacifier, you might find that he is, to quote one mouthy NFL kicker, ripe for the pickin'.
- Hockey Announcer Gone Wild: You Want To Party (Maybe) With This Guy
- Best Pass Defense Ever: Ronde Barber And The 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Reese Witherspoon Arrest Video: Hot, Bothered And Handcuffed
- Sam Adams In A Can, Just In Time For Summer Drinking Season
- Live From Radio City: Reporter Punks NFL Draft Fans
- The 5.0 Club: Best Rushing Teams in NFL History
- Sieves: The Worst Run Defenses In NFL History
- Monsters of the Midway: We Need The Chicago Bears More Than Ever
- Boston, Sports, Patriotism And Terror
- The 100 Stingiest Defenses In Football History
- NFL Crown Rule: Will It Dethrone Rushing King Adrian Peterson?
- Year Of The Offensive Tackle: Not Always The 'Safe' Draft Bet
- Draft Habits: NFL Teams Covet LBs, Duped By False Temptress WRs
- Big Tease: 2012 New England Patriots And NFL's History Of Offensive Failures
- Epic Fail: The Wide Receiver Draft Class Of 2012