The NFL has concluded its championship season. The Steelers didn’t win the Super Bowl.
But in honor of the six Lombardis they have won, here are six things the Steelers learned about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2013, aspects of his game Roethlisberger discussed in detail near the season’s end:
IT ISN’T INEVITABLE THAT HE’LL BE SACKED A LOT
“I know early on there was a lot of talk about all-time records for sacks and this and that, but the guys have really done a great job of stepping up. I got the ball out of my hands, and our up-tempo offense kind of helps with that as well. I think even the hits I do take; it doesn’t hurt quite as much as it has in the past.”
HE ISN’T OPPOSED TO GETTING RID OF THE BALL QUICKLY
“A lot of times getting rid of the ball is about defense, is about the play that’s called. It has nothing to do with what I’m thinking in the pre-snap. Sometimes you call plays that the shortest route is 10 or 12 yards where you can’t get the ball out of your hands fast if the shortest of three or four routes is 10 to 12 yards. It’s really just about what play is called and what the defense gives us. Sometimes there are coverage sacks, and there’s nothing you can do.”
HE DOESN’T HOLD THE BALL INTENTIONALLY TO MAKE BIG PLAYS
“No, are you kidding me? Heck no. I don’t want to get hit. I don’t ever go into a play in the huddle and think, ‘Boy, on this play I’m really going to hold onto it and make a play,’ because too many negative things can happen.
“It was never intentional. It was never like, ‘I’m going to do this on purpose.’ It’s, ‘I’m going to extend the play because that’s the competitor in me.’ There’s a difference. When you’re a competitor and you don’t want to give up on a play, then you’re going to do whatever you can to make the best of any opportunity.”
RUNNING THE NO-HUDDLE PROMOTES GETTING THE BALL OUT FASTER
“I would agree with that because when I’m calling the plays, I can call it off what the defense is giving us. So it’s kind of that chess match I’ve talked about before with coordinators, where if Coach (Todd) Haley calls a play, he doesn’t know what the defense is going to give us. The defense doesn’t know what play we’re going to call. When I’m out there, I can actually see what the defense is giving us, and I can change the play or call a play that I think is best to work against that specific defense.
“In that sense, yes, usually the ball will come out quicker because I’ve kind of predetermined where I’m going to go with the ball because I’ve called the play off a specific defense.”
HE CAN PLAY A CEREBRAL GAME, TOO
“I think so. There are still times that I make mistakes calling a play where I call the wrong play or guess wrong or they guess right and it doesn’t look so good. I’d like to think I get us in the best play possible most of the time.
“It’s more than just me. I’ve got to give credit to the coaches and the other quarterbacks, because so much of the no-huddle is done on the sidelines. We’re talking about so many things and the players are coming up and talking to me about plays that they like, whether it’s Heath (Miller) or Jerricho (Cotchery), guys who are really on the interior part of it. It’s more than just me. It’s all of us and just being able to use the things that they give me on the field to make us all better.”
HE DOESN”T THINK HE’S PLAYED HIS BEST FOOTBALL YET
“The goal is always to get better. Coach (Terry) Hoeppner (at Miami, Ohio) always said, ‘You either improve or deteriorate. You never stay the same.’ I want to keep getting better physically and mentally. I still feel like my best football is ahead of me.”