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Former backup Steelers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who is now an analyst for Pro Football Focus, released his quarterback rankings yesterday and he had his former teammate Ben Roethlisberger ranked 16th.
"Ben Roethlisberger proved his toughness by coming back at 38 years old after elbow surgery and helping the Steelers to an 11-0 start. But something just didn’t seem right during that hot streak, and Pittsburgh finished the year 1-5 in its last six games," Gradkowski wrote.
"New offensive coordinator Matt Canada has a tall task in trying to figure out what will make this offense tick. Roethlisberger ranked last out of 36 qualifying quarterbacks on play-action attempts last season. He subsequently led the league in shotgun pass attempts (640) and pass attempts under 10 yards. He did a decent job of getting the ball out of his hand quickly, but it didn’t translate into many explosive plays, as the Steelers ranked 26th in explosive pass-play percentage (11.7%)."
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 48-37 loss to the Browns in the wild-card game. 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.
Gradkowski makes a good point that Roethlisberger needs to complete more explosive yardage plays in 2021, as he averaged just 6.3 yards per pass attempt last season, which was the lowest of his career when playing more than two games (2019 season).
As far as Gradkowski ranking Roethlisberger 16th among quarterbacks in the league right now, I thought it was pretty reasonable. I'd have him probably a few spots higher, but not in the top 10. However, Gradkowski's quarterback rankings were a lot better than Jason La Canfora's of CBS Sports.
La Canfora had his quarterback rankings by tiers and had Roethlisberger ranked below the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff, Jameis Winston and Teddy Bridgewater, which is just absurd.