(Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)
There's been a lot of talk about Ben Roethlisberger's arm strength this offseason, as his deep ball was below average last season, especially late in the year. Roethlisberger addressed this subject at OTAs this past week and said, "You know I had total reconstruction on my elbow. That might have something to do with it. But no excuses."
Almost two years removed from his elbow surgery, Roethlisberger says he's having no issues with his arm.
"My arm feels great, though," Roethlisberger said. "I’d like to wait until we get into more of the season and see how it feels. Right now it feels really good. My arm was healed. I played. But I think anybody that has a major surgery, it almost takes that first year back. It’s still, you’re back, but are you really back? That’s why I want to reserve the answer until we get into the season a little bit to let you know how my arm feels, even compared to last year."
Pro Football Focus posted a video on Twitter last night stating that Roethlisberger needs to be more aggressive downfield in 2021.
"It all comes down to Big Ben being more aggressive," Steve Palazzolo of PFF said. "And I know the easy narrative is he's regressing and he's old, and he can't throw the ball down the field anymore. And last year, it was true. He only completed 30 percent of his passes at 20 plus yards. It was terrible. It was one of the league's worst, but those are the stats. Those are the numbers that you look at that even for an old Big Ben, they tend to regress the other way, and he can be more aggressive and make plays down the field and let Chase Claypool make plays.
"So, if Big Ben actually improved his downfield passing and he did it more often, that would be the one thing that might offset the Steelers getting a little bit worse on the offensive line, a little bit worse in the secondary. Big Ben, get aggressive, throw the ball down the field, let Chase Claypool become a star. And that's how the Steelers can have a good 2021 season."
The NFL on CBS Twitter account also posted an interesting stat recently in regards to Roethlisberger's yard per pass attempt number. According to CBS, 27 quarterbacks have thrown 650 passes since 2019 and Roethlisberger has the lowest yards per attempt at 6.20.
Roethlisberger averaged just 6.3 yards per pass attempt in 2020, which was the lowest of his career when playing more than two games. In addition, 59 percent of Roethlisberger's throws last year were short of the sticks, which led the league. So, Palazzolo is right when he says that the Steelers' success in 2021 hinges on Roethlisberger's right arm and his deep ball. They just can't have a repeat of last year's dink-and-dunk offensive attack. If so, 2021 will surely be it for the future Hall of Famer.
(Screenshot from Pro Football Talk on YouTube)