It’s not often that NFL Twitter is firmly in the corner of former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But after Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus tweeted that he’d “be in support of a HoF standard that excluded ALL of Stafford, Big Ben, Eli Manning, Rivers, Romo and Matt Ryan,” Steelers fans and non-Steelers fans alike came out in support of Big Ben, who, by most measures, should not be mentioned alongside any of the half-dozen other quarterbacks that Monson highlighted.
Sam Monson: ‘The 1st Tier of QBs’ Doesn’t Include Ben Roethlisberger
In a subsequent tweet, Monson argued that “the 1st tier of QBs over this past generation is unquestionably P(eyton) Manning, Brady, Brees, Rodgers…. Then there’s a gap…. That’s the line.”
But because “the standard has already been set lower than that, (it’s) inherently unfair to start drawing the line there right now,” he concludes.
It’s a fair statement to say that quarterbacks should be judged relative to those who played in the same era, especially when one considers how passing numbers have become increasingly inflated in recent decades.
But is the line between Roethlisberger and everyone but Tom Brady really that clear? As noted by Steelers fan Brian Nau, Roethlisberger has both the stats and the winning pedigree, highlighted by three Super Bowl appearances and a pair of Super Bowl victories.
Or to put it another way:
Meanwhile, Rivers and Romo never once took their teams to the Super Bowl, while Eli Manning is elevated by having two Super Bowl wins over Brady, yet his career record is just 117-117 and he has an 84.1 career passer rating. This as compared to Big Ben, whose career record is 165-81-1 with a 93.5 career passer rating.
Twitter user Justin Annesi also makes a good point about iconic plays, of which Big Ben has a few, including some that came during his Super Bowl winning seasons, like the shoestring tackle that helped preserve the victory over Peyton Manning’s No. 1 seeded Colts en route to Super Bowl XL. And the corner of the end zone touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes that won Super Bowl XLIII.
A lot of people like to point out that Roethlisberger played very poorly in his first Super Bowl, posting a 22.6 passer rating, per Pro Football Reference (PFR). But in the three games that got the Steelers to the Big Game, his passer ratings were 148.7 (at Cincinnati), 95.3 (at Indianapolis) and 124.9 (at Denver).
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Nor did he play his entire career with stellar defenses, or even capable offensive lines, as noted by Twitter user Elton Puka:
Moreover, some of his peak seasons came when the Steelers were at their lowest as a team, yet never finished below .500 because of Big Ben’s outsized efforts. That includes the 2013 season, when Roethlisberger delivered what former Colts general manager Bill Polian described as one of the best-ever performances by a quarterback in a 34-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in London.
PFR’s QB Hall of Fame Monitor
It’s also instructive to take a look at PFR’s QB Hall of Fame Monitor, which is “designed to estimate a player’s chances of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame using AV, Pro Bowls, All-Pros, championships, and various stat milestones.”
By this measure, Ryan, Roethlisberger and Rivers all slot in below the average Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback, but well ahead of many QBs who are already in the Hall, with the next closest comps being Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Dan Fouts and Kurt Warner, all of whom rank above Eli Manning.
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