Why Steelers' Wild Card hopes are at risk if Big Ben misses time
When it rains, it pours. That’s how it must feel for Steelers fans this season after watching their star quarterback get carted to the locker room for the second time this season.
Roethlisberger missed a month’s worth of game action due to a knee injury in Week 3 at St. Louis. He returned last week at home against the Bengals, but his timing was way off and he graded poorly (-1.4) in their loss.
In Week 9, Roethlisberger suffered a foot injury that took him out of the game against Oakland in a key AFC matchup of Wild Card hopefuls.
Entering Week 9, Roethlisberger was our third-ranked quarterback (89.2) behind Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, respectively. He also ranks sixth in deep passing (54.5) and 11th in accuracy percentage (79.7).
When Roethlisberger was out earlier this season, 14-year veteran Michael Vick took over and started the next three games. The only Pittsburgh win during that stretch actually came in Vick’s worst graded game (-4.0).
It was late in that game when Vick completed what would be his only deep pass of the season to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
This is where the Steelers missed Roethlisberger the most with Vick as the starter. Vick completed just one of 10 deep passes (attempts targeted 20 or more yards downfield) with a TD and interception.
Things changed a bit in the Arizona game when Landry Jones replaced Vick and led the comeback win. While both Jones (50th) and Vick (46th) are ranked poorly in accuracy percentage, Jones has a big edge over Vick in the deep passing game.
Jones ranks second for PFF (71.4 percent) in deep passing accuracy percentage, completing five-of-seven deep passes for 130 yards and a score. It’s that part of the offense the Steelers can’t afford to live without, especially with another star player, RB Le’Veon Bell, out for the season with a knee injury.
As good as Jones appears to be as a deep-passing QB, the fact remains the more he plays, the easier it will be for opposing defenses to exploit his weaknesses—of which he has many—and handle the Steelers until Roethlisberger returns.