Analyzing the Data: Ben Roethlisberger (Super Bowl Edition)

michael wongCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2009

Ben Roethlisberger, for better or worse, is being compared to some of the best NFL quarterbacks of all time. His plodding yet solid play has helped bring his team a second shot at a championship title in four years, all before his 27th birthday.

Kurt Warner, the dynamic quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals, will also be fighting for a second championship ring when they face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tampa, FL on Feb. 1.

I personally am one of those people who doesn't read that much into the hype. I firmly stand on the side of the picket fence that believes Roethlisberger isn't even close to being one of the greats, at least at this point in time.

A number of TV announcers and analysts would beg to differ. It is for this reason that I am going to take the bias and beliefs out of the equation. What I intend to do is to take a look at Ben Roethlisberger in a purely statistical fashion; to pull out all the files, the numbers, and the game film on Pittsburgh's $100 million quarterback.

What will be the outcome? Let's find out.

The first thing to address when dealing with the NFL's greatest quarterbacks argument is often the Super Bowl statistics. The win/loss record, the passer rating, the highlights and the touchdown/interception ratio all play significantly in the minds of the fans and in entering the Hall of Fame.

Since Ben is attempting to win his second Championship by the age of 26 and the only other QB to have successfully done this is Tom Brady, let us use this lock Hall of Famer as the model for comparison.

[Super Bowl data gathered from:]

Tom Brady (SB XXXVI vs. St. Louis Rams)

Attempts/Completions:        16/27                                                           

Passing Yards:                   147                                

Touchdowns/Interceptions:  1/0                                                               

Passer Rating:                   86.2

Ben Roethlisberger (SB XL vs. Seattle Seahawks)

Attempts/Completions:        9/21                                                              

Passing Yards:                   123                                                         

Touchdowns/Interceptions:  0/2                                                                

Passer Rating:                   22.6

As you can see, Big Ben completed around 45 percent of his passes for 123 yards, 0 Touchdowns and 2 Picks. Tom the Turkey, on the other hand, completed over 55 percent of his passes for 147 yards, 1 Touchdown and 0 Picks.

Although neither of these quarterbacks had a large measure of statistical success in their first Super Bowl, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Brady's passer rating is nearly quadruple that of Roethlisberger's.

Speaking purely in terms of the numbers, Roethlisberger doesn't even come close to Montana, Warner, Manning or even Brad Johnson. At least in the Super Bowl(Author's note: We Baltimor-eans don't really like either Tom or Ben).

Moving onto the next item on our agenda, Career statistics is often a better measure of a player's true legacy, it shows success or failure over a number of years rather then the results of a good game-plan or perhaps just getting lucky in the big game.

An example of a Hall of Famer who did not play very well in the big game but had an enormous amount of statistical success over his entire career is Buffalo Bill's quarterback Jim Kelly.

For this comparison, I will use New Orleans star quarterback Drew Brees instead of Tom Brady. Since he has been in the league for more years then Roethlisberger, I will use only the years since Roethlisberger entered the league.

[Career statistics gathered from:]

Drew Brees (2004-2008)

Passer Rating:                   95.16                                                          

Completions/Attempts:       1794/2741                                                           

Yardage:                          20645                                                           

Touchdowns/Interceptions: 139/68

Ben Roethlisberger (2004-2008)

Passer Rating:                   91.26                                                          

Completions/Attempts:       1189/1905                                                          

Yardage:                          14974                                                          

Touchdowns/Interceptions: 101/69

[Now a lot of people will ask why I used Drew Brees in this comparison. First of all, for this period of time, around five seasons, he has been playing at an All-Pro level. Last season he had the most total passing yards ever, short of Dan Marino who had 15 more.

Since Ben is being compared to some of the best quarterbacks to have ever played in the NFL, I believe it is fitting that he should be compared to a player as good as Drew.]

Looking at the analysis, Drew and Ben's passer rating over the past five years is very similar, both are consistently efficient passing QB's. Drew completed 65.4 percent of his passes, while Ben completed just over 62.4 percent. The fact that Brees threw more than 800 more times than Roethlisberger over the past five seasons should not be overlooked.

Typically, the more times you throw the ball the worse your completion percentage gets. Therefore Drew is significantly better of a pure passer then Ben is, statistically speaking. Drew also threw for more than 5000 more yards over the same time period than Ben did, and threw 38 more touchdown passes, while actually throwing one LESS interception.

The results of this comparison, with very little opinion included are that Ben Roethlisberger is a solid, unspectacular quarterback who at best, deserves to be stacked somewhere near but below the upper echelon of the NFL's elite quarterbacks.

There are many other things that a good quarterback, an elite quarterback can or should be judged upon, but in terms of the comparisons based purely on statistical success both in the Super Bowl and over their career, it is safe to say that the only reason that Roethlisberger should even be talked about when bringing up the greats is his win/loss ratio.

In five seasons, Roethlisberger has had four winning seasons (over .500), and only one losing season, the one following his terrifying motorcycle accident. Somehow he just seems to find a way to win, week in and week out.

I don't think that this would be grounds for a Hall of Fame induction, and unless he somehow steps his game up over the rest of his NFL career, I am fairly certain he will find himself coming up short.

Only time can tell, but as for the Super Bowl that will be played within the next couple days, if Big Ben wants to cement his status as a good quarterback, maybe even a great one, he needs to have a very good game.

-Michael ( , SB PREDICTION: Arizona 27, Pittsburgh 24)


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