Ben Roethlisberger Slammed for Lamar Jackson Criticism

Ben Roethlisberger vs Baltimore Ravens

Getty Ben Roethlisberger has been slammed for his criticism of Lamar Jackson.

Ben Roethlisberger knew how to annoy the Baltimore Ravens during his playing days, and the former Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback is still chipping away in retirement.

Roethlisberger took aim at Lamar Jackson during a recent edition of the Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger podcast (h/t Sporting News), saying “you don’t really fear Lamar’s arm, his accuracy all the time. He’s got a huge arm, he can make things happen when he scrambles and whatever, but you don’t fear him just sitting in the pocket and picking you apart.”

To say Big Ben’s words have not been warmly received would be an understatement. Among those who’ve fired back has been Jackson’s former backup Robert Griffin III, along with Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe.

Both have lent their voices to countering Roethlisberger’s argument with some statistics proving Jackson is actually more comfortable in the pocket than many might believe.

Numbers Don’t Support Big Ben’s Lamar Jackson Verdict

Accuracy is a common complaint about Jackson’s game, although the numbers don’t exactly offer the critics, especially Roethlisberger, much support. As ESPN’s Bill Barnwell pointed out, Jackson’s career pocket-passer rating actually exceeds that posted by Roethlisberger.

Like Barnwell, Griffin also cited Jackson’s superior overall quarterback rating of 64.9 from within the confines of the pocket.

The numbers don’t support Roethlisberger’s contention. Not even when examining how Jackson fared during 12 games in 2022.

He was good on 75.4 percent of his throws, the second highest mark of his career, per Pro Football Reference. Jackson was guilty of a bad throw percentage of just 18.1.

Issues with ball placement are only apparent when looking at Jackson’s completion percentage index score of 90. Pro Football Reference notes “100 is average, higher is better.”

The number doesn’t do Jackson credit, but there are mitigating factors Roethlisberger didn’t mention.

Supporting Cast Hasn’t Helped Lamar Jackson Progress as a Passer

Speaking on Skip and Shannon Undisputed for Fox Sports, Sharpe made it clear Roethlisberger enjoyed the luxury of throwing to more talented receivers than those Jackson has worked with.

Specifically, Sharpe named “Antonio Brown, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders. Which one of the receivers that Lamar Jackson has ever had can hold a candle to Antonio? What receiver he is throwing to was as good as Hines Ward?”

A lack of marquee talent at wide receiver has blighted Jackson’s development as much as playing in an offense geared to feature the run. The quality of playmakers around a quarterback matters, one reason why Roethlisberger retired with two Super Bowl wins on his CV, while Jackson is still chasing a championship.

Jackson can change the narrative after the Ravens replaced Greg Roman with Todd Monken as offensive coordinator. General manager Eric DeCosta also recruited big-name wideout Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency.

Beckham will make Jackson a better passer, provided both can stay healthy. What OBJ’s presence won’t guarantee is Jackson signing a new long-term contract.

While he can play on the non-exclusive franchise tag in 2023, the Ravens still want to keep Jackson for the long haul. Doing so will require a bumper payday, and Sharpe believes it isn’t fair to make “it seem like everybody’s that’s in line to get money is as accurate as Joe Burrow.”

Perceptions of Jackson’s ability as a passer suffer from his penchant for making big plays with his legs. Yet, his rushing threat is a potent enough weapon that Jackson would be denying his team the best chance to win if he didn’t stay mobile.

Roethlisberger made a prolific career from ad-libbing plays from outside the pocket, one reason why he went 17-10 against the Ravens, per StatMuse. Jackson hasn’t been anywhere close to as successful in this rivalry, going 2-3, but those numbers will improve the more comfortable he gets connecting with Beckham within a more expansive passing game.

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