QBs in Focus: Ben Roethlisberger

Sifting through a mountain of data from Ben Roethlisberger's 2013 season, Steve Palazzolo points out the strengths and weaknesses.

| 3 years ago

QBs in Focus: Ben Roethlisberger

qb-month-benThough we certainly miss football during the offseason, it’s always a good time to take a step back and analyze our plethora of data.

We’re often so busy grading and collecting data during the season that we’re unable to put a lot of the information to good use. With that said, we’ve decided to declare June as “QB Month” as we break down NFL quarterbacks every which way.

We’re going to examine quarterbacks from a number of situations before looking at each of them individually. The grades and numbers should reveal each quarterback’s strengths and weaknesses from the 2013 season.

As we go through this series, it’s important to understand the relationship between QB Rating (NFL’s version) and PFF Grade.

While QB Rating is obviously supposed to be a QB statistic, it’s actually a better gauge of what the entire offense did in a given situation. This is the type of information that is actually extremely valuable to our NFL team customers as their game planning efforts must go towards stopping an entire passing offense, not just the quarterback.

If the quarterback throws an easy dump off pass to the RB who then weaves through the defense for the touchdown, it’s certainly not a great indicator of quarterbacking skill as it is the running back and defense accounting for the majority of the work on the play. Of course the QB Rating will look quite shiny in that situation.

On the other hand, PFF Grade is a good indicator of how well the quarterback actually performed in a given situation. Whether they throw an accurate pass that was dropped, or perhaps an inaccurate one that should have been intercepted and the defense dropped, the PFF grade will account for those situations with a positive and a negative grade respectively while QB Rating will simply reflect the 0-for-1 passing.

It’s important to distinguish between QB Rating and PFF grade, though there’s a good chance they’ll match up in most situations.

After taking a look at the entire league in various situations, it’s time to break down each quarterback individually.

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger (2)

Ben Roethlisberger (3)

All categories with a * are normalized so that the league average is 0.0.


•  Among the league’s best when breaking the pocket (+3.5).
•  Ranked third with a +10.1 grade on passes in the 1-to-10-yard range.
•  Showed well on passes in 11-to-20-yard range (+8.3).
•  Sixth-highest grade on passes in between the numbers at +14.7.
•  Among the league’s best when given a clean pocket (+17.3).
•  Was at his best on 4-to-6-yard drop-backs (+4.9).
•  Second-highest grade on drop-backs lasting two seconds or less (+7.8).
•  Ranked fifth with a +7.6 grade on drop-backs lasting 2.6 to 3.0 seconds.
•  Graded at +22.0 on passes to wide receivers (by alignment) including a +12.5 grade when throwing to the slot.
•  Ranked second on hitches (+9.7) and fifth on out routes (+7.3)


•  Struggled on drop-backs from under center (-6.8).
•  Graded at -4.2 on passes traveling at least 20 yards in the air and ranked second from the bottom with a -7.3 grade on passes traveling at least 30 yards in the air.
•  Graded at -6.9 when pressured, including a -7.3 grade against blitz pressure.
•  Fifth-lowest grade on drop-backs lasting 2.1 to 2.5 seconds (-5.2).
•  Graded at -4.4 when using play action.
•  Struggled on crossing routes (-2.4).


•  Threw 24.7% of passes outside the numbers to the right and only 18.0% of passes outside the numbers to the left (fifth-lowest).
•  36.8% of passes lasting two seconds or less; third-highest in the league.
•  Below average percentage of drop-backs in 2.1-to-3.5 range, above average with 18.0% of drop-backs lasting at least 3.6 seconds.
•  Used play action only 11.6% of the time; lowest in the league.
•  14.5% of attempts went to inline tight ends; fifth-highest in the league.
•  Threw screens 14.5% of the time; third-highest in the league. Threw the second highest% of wide receiver screens at 11.1% of attempts.


For the entire set of “Quarterbacks in Focus” posts, click here.


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| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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