Last month Pittsburgh Steelers fans got good news in the form of video showing franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger throwing to teammates at a Pittsburgh-area high school. That video made a positive impression on NFL analyst Chris Simms, but not enough of an impression to keep Big Ben inside the Top 10 of Simms’ Top 40 Quarterback Countdown 2020.
This year the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB has Roethlisberger, 38, as the No. 14 quarterback in the NFL, down from No. 6 entering last season.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Mike Florio & Chris Simms on Big Ben
“My concern last year with Ben Roethlisberger was that the elbow was the first of what will potentially be many things that break down on a guy who has been hit a lot, who has never been a bastion of obsessive-compulsive offseason workouts, and who just may not be able to physically do it as he gets closer to 40,” offered Mike Florio, Simms’ broadcast partner.
“I hear you, it’s worrisome,” Simms responded. “And compared to some other quarterbacks who have played in their 40s, he has taken much more of a physical beating…. We can’t forget that Big Ben played a physical brand of football to begin with for the quarterback position, but then all those years of him kinda carrying that offense behind that crappy offensive line. Even in the Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals”—a game that recently re-aired on NBCSN, causing Santonio Holmes to shed tears of joy—“that was one of the worst offensive lines in football, and there they were, in the Super Bowl, because of Big Ben and his ability to create magic.”
Big Ben Still an ‘Elite’ Pocket Passer
“But the bottom line with Big Ben is he is still one of the elite pocket passers in the league,” Simms said.
“I mean, one, the video we watched a few weeks ago of him throwing the football … he was throwing lasers and missles around the field…. I was going to put Big Ben in the 16 or 17 range [on my list] until I saw that throwing session,” said Simms, before adding, “… Degree of difficulty, high-level throws, he’s still one of the best in the business.”
For what it’s worth, Simms has Roethlisberger ranked one spot ahead of Tom Brady, two spots ahead of Drew Brees, and three spots ahead of fellow 2004 draft pick Philip Rivers.
Pro Football Focus Ranks Roethlisberger No. 9 in NFL
If you think No. 14 is too low a ranking for Big Ben, you may take comfort in Pro Football Focus’ 2020 QB Rankings, which have Roethlisberger ranked ninth among the NFL’s 32 projected starters. PFF’s rankings emphasize recent performance but consider a quarterback’s entire body of work.
At the same time, some NFL observers have expressed concern about the state of the Steelers’ backup QB situation, including Gil Brandt, who recently called it ‘one of the biggest NFL roster holes.’