On Wednesday Pro Football Focus (PFF) tweeted out a 14-second video showing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lobbing short passes to first-round pick Najee Harris at OTAs. But it was the caption to the tweet that got former Steelers offensive guard Ramon Foster up in arms.
Foster makes an excellent point about PFF joking about Roethlisberger’s arm strength. PFF is all about analytics and grades, one of the ways in which they attempt to stand apart from many other NFL analysts and observers. So it’s out of character—and frankly inappropriate—for them to take a cheap shot at Roethlisberger, especially as they have become increasingly critical of his arm strength in recent years.
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Anyway, Foster may not be a fan of PFF to begin with, based on a story re-told (via tweet) by longtime Steelers beat reporter Mark Kaboly (The Athletic).
Kaboly also notes that he saw Roethlisberger throw a couple of 55-yard bombs in OTAs this week, which is nice to know but probably doesn’t have much meaning. Few are questioning whether Big Ben has enough raw arm strength left to still get the job done.
In February, Steelers team president Art Rooney II said that Roethlisberger’s arm remains “almost as strong as ever.” And you may recall that there was a day during training camp last August when Kaboly reported that Roethlisberger’s arm was “more than just fine.”
Ben Roethlisberger vs. the Grind of a 17-Game Season
The question now is whether the rest of Roethlisberger’s 39-year-old body can hold up through the entirety of a 16-, er, 17-game season. Last year Big Ben reportedly had ongoing issues with both knees that seem to have been caused—or exacerbated—by a hit he suffered during the first half of the November 8 game at Dallas. Then in December, he said, “My arm feels really good, it’s more about the rest of the body,” before noting that “the cumulation of the toll of the hits, of pounding, the grinding, of being 38 years old, all of those things kind of add up.”
Indeed, Roethlisberger played very effectively during Pittsburgh’s 11-0 start in 2020. In fact, he won AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Bengals in mid-November, a game in which he completed 27 of 46 passes for 333 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 110.1. But his performance in December and January left many Steelers fans wondering whether it was time for Big Ben to retire, especially considering what unfolded in the first half of the playoff game against the Browns, when Roethlisberger threw three first-half interceptions, a big contributing factor to the 28-0 first-quarter deficit.
Ramon Foster is Now a Member of the Sports Media Himself
As for Foster, you can expect him to continue to make observations like the one noted above. Since last September he has been co-hosting a sports talk radio show on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville. In fact, it was Foster who broke the news of Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement back in February.
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