PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Several NFL experts have downplayed the season Ben Roethlisberger has had going strictly on individual stats to claim the Steelers starter isn’t even a top 10 quarterback.
Spending 13 years with him, what does offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner think of Roethlisberger’s season?
“I would say if you’re collecting 10 games I would say, yeah, pretty good,” Fichtner said. “He’s taking the approach that he’s throwing the balls to our color jersey. He’s taking pride in that. He hasn’t been risky with the football.”
Roethlisberger has only four interceptions, no quarterback with as many attempts has fewer. The lowest interception number he’s ever had over a full season is nine, when he threw for 4,952 yards in 2014. Not that Ben has been perfect.
“He’s had his moments,” Fichtner said. “It’s hard probably not to. He's Big Ben for a reason. It’s still an attitude that he has of toughness and never giving up. But I do think he has done an excellent job of managing the group.”
Overall Roethlisberger is 19th in NFL completion percentage, 15th in passing yards, 9th in QB rating and 5th in touchdowns.
Since Ben has returned, however, the Steelers have gone from converting 34% of third downs to 47% this year, the best improvement in the NFL. They’ve also had the biggest turnaround in the league in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns. Last year at 35%, this year its 69% and 82% over the last three games.
“Situationally, he’s been phenomenal in the red, a lot of great communication on and off the field with his guys that are out there,” Fichtner said. “We talk on the sidelines. He’s been really awesome.
I could say this would be his best collection of a bunch of games, but he’s a had a lot of great games.”
While he has had a longer career winning streak, Roethlisberger has never won his first nine starts of a season.
“I think he’s really zeroed in on the things that are going to help this football team have a chance to win every game or at least give us the chance in the fourth quarter to win the game,” Fichtner said.
This from a quarterback that has multiple Lombardi Trophies but no MVP awards.
“I think you know most awards usually somewhat get attached to the stars that are winning,” Fichtner said. “For that alone, [Ben Roethlisberger]’s got the one undefeated team in the National Football League. He’s playing really solid, good football.”
“He would equally be able to say, ‘Let’s win x-amount of games’. That’s the record. That’s what we talk about all the time. That’s what he talks about.”
Tom Brady and Drew Brees are the only active quarterbacks to have more wins than Roethlisberger. In the history of the professional game, only four have more wins than him (Brady, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Brees).
“I would think Comeback Player of the Year.” Fichtner said. “I would think MVP. I would think AFC Players of the Week, months maybe. We just have to keep stacking them. He just has to keep working them the way he is.”
The only stat Fichtner and the Steelers ultimately worry about are wins and he’s getting those from his 38 year-old quarterback. In that stat, Roethlisberger has no equal.