Bleacher Report thinks Ben Roethlisberger is a dark-horse NFL MVP candidate in 2021
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Ben Roethlisberger has 100-1 odds to win league MVP in 2021, however, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report has the 39-year-old quarterback listed among his seven dark-horse MVP candidates for this season.
"If MVP voters are swayed by a good story, the potential last ride of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should get their attention," Knox wrote. "The 39-year-old gunslinger faded down the stretch in 2020 but still had respectable numbers. He finished with 3,803 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
"It's important to remember, though, that Big Ben was working his way back from a season lost to elbow surgery. He'll be two years removed from the injury and perhaps in better physical shape to go the distance in 2021."
The Steelers got off to a franchise-best 11-0 start in 2020, but they collapsed down the stretch, losing five of their last six games of the season, including the embarrassing loss to the Browns in the wild-card game at Heinz Field. Roethlisberger didn't play well either late in the season after having a stellar start to the year when some considered him a league MVP candidate.
In the first nine games, Roethlisberger had a 22-4 touchdown-interception ratio and had a quarterback rating over 100 seven times. In his last seven games of the season (including the playoff loss), Roethlisberger had a 15-10 touchdown-interception ratio and had a quarterback rating over 100 just once.
Roethlisberger's deep ball was not up to par in 2020 and he averaged just 6.3 yards per pass attempt, the lowest of his career when playing more than two games.
So, with Roethlisberger two years removed from major elbow surgery and a normal OTAs and training camp, perhaps he could excel more in 2021 when it comes to throwing the ball deep. If so, it would certainly help out the Steelers' offense as they relied on a quick dink-and-dunk passing attack last year that was figured out by defenses late in the year.
They also had no running game, as they finished last in yards per game (84.4) and yards per carry (3.6) in 2020. They addressed their biggest need through the draft by selecting feature running back Najee Harris. In addition, they have retooled their offensive line under the tutelage of new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. Like Klemm, Matt Canada was promoted as well, replacing Randy Fichtner as the team's offensive coordinator.
So, there's been a lot of change with the Steelers this offseason in regards to the offense, which they believe will help the team and Roethlisberger. One thing that remains the same, however, is that Roethlisberger's receiving corps will all be back in 2021 and they added another weapon by selecting tight end Pat Freiermuth in the second round of this year's draft.
While I think Roethlisberger can be more efficient in 2021 than last year, I believe his numbers are going to go down with Harris now in the backfield and he won't have the same volume of pass attempts. I think relying more on Harris and the running game will be a better method for the Steelers offense and Roethlisberger, however, it will probably hurt his chances of being a dark-horse league MVP.