Those of us who watch Ben Roethlisberger on a weekly basis know what he can do and rank him among the 3 or 5 best quarterbacks in the NFL even though he rarely dazzles in the statistical department, apart from his usually high passer rating. He's always nearly flawless in running the no-huddle, and he almost never fails in the two-minute drill when the Steelers need a score to tie or win a game.
But it looks like the Steelers are finally moving towards a more pass-heavy offense because of their sputtering running game and giving Roethlisberger more responsibility outside of the last two minutes of each half. I know that they've been gradually doing that for years now, installing empty backfield sets on first down and mixing up their offense a lot more, but even in doing that, Tomlin and Arians kept to the Steelers' run first philosophy and kept Roethlisberger's attempts below 30 whenever possible.
That's no longer the case. He's attempted at least 30 passes in each game so far this season, even against Detroit when Mendenhall was averaging 5 yards per carry, and is on pace for around 550 attempts, which would be by far the most in his career. Even with this increase in workload, so far he's posting a ridiculous 8.5 yards per attempt, which puts him on pace to throw for around 4700 yards (a result that has about a 2% chance of happening, but it just shows how efficiently he's playing right now). He's also making mistakes undoubtedly with 5 INTs, 2 returned for touchdowns, but I don't think that makes the transition not worth it. It definitely hurt in the Bengals game, but defense and special teams should also shoulder some of blame for the two losses, especially the one in Chicago.
Maybe now Roethlisberger will prove that he can shoulder the responsibilities of a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady and still be as efficient as he is when he's only throwing the ball 20-25 times per game. And maybe now people will stop mistaking Pittsburgh for the power-running team they used to be but no longer can be because their offensive line can't open up holes against anyone who has even an average front seven.
Kudos to Leber
for the amazing sig and to Metroid
for the userbar and making them both fit
2008 and 2009 Defunct Dynasty League Champion