Without Question, Carson Palmer Is a Better Quarterback than Ben Roethlisberger

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIFebruary 17, 2009

After Ben Roethlisberger won Super Bowl XLIII this year, many have began to believe that he is one of the best quarterbacks in professional football.

If people don't feel that he's better then Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, they most certainly would feel that Big Ben is better then his division rival Carson Palmer.

Strange how quickly we forget, how little it takes for one football player to be forgotten and another to be revered.

In the case of Carson Palmer versus Ben Roethlisberger, I personally feel that the choice is obvious.

Many people would lead you to believe that Ben Roethlisberger is the better quarterback and the success he achieved this year is bound to only help the momentum of that argument.

With that being said, let's take a closer look at the two quarterbacks to see if we can reach a more accurate conclusion.

I will begin by posting the career statistics for both quarterbacks.

Since they both began playing in the NFL in 2004, it should prove to be relatively easy to compare and contrast their success.

Ben Roethlisberger (2004-2008): 1,189 of 1,905 (62.4 percent) for 14,974 yards, 101 touchdowns and 69 interceptions. QB Rating: 89.4.

Carson Palmer (2004-2008): 1,380 of 2,165 (63.7 percent) for 15,630 yards, 107 TD's and 67 interceptions. QB Rating: 88.9.

Keep in mind; Carson Palmer only played 65 games during that span where Ben Roethlisberger played 72 games.

With that being said, a few things become clear when looking at those statistics:

·           Carson Palmer has a higher completion percentage.

·           Carson Palmer has thrown for more yards.

·           Carson Palmer has thrown more touchdown passes.

·           Carson Palmer has thrown fewer interceptions.

The one curious thing that might stand out from all of that is to notice that despite Palmer's superiority in all of the above-mentioned categories, Ben Roethlisberger still has a higher quarterback rating.

This is due to the fact that Roethlisberger averages 7.9-yards per pass where as Palmer averages 7.2-yards per pass.

So, if Palmer beats out Ben Roethlisberger in virtually every passing category, why is it that many still feel that Roethlisberger is the better quarterback?

Unfortunately, the answer is painfully obvious.

During the course of Ben Roethlisberger's five-year career, he has managed to gather an impressive winning record.

His career win/lose record is 59-22 including going 8-2 in the postseason.

The two Super Bowls he has won during that time span might prove to be the biggest factor in his defense.

Carson Palmer on the other hand has a win-lose record of 32-33, thus leading many people to clearly identify superiority with the quarterback who has the more impressive winning record.

I can say that Ben Roethlisberger certainly deserves a share of the credit for helping the Steelers win as many games as they have, but does that really mean that Carson Palmer isn't just as good?

Many would say that question is ridiculous and all I would have to do is look at their win-loss records to be able to clearly see who the better quarterback is.

Now that we have taken a look at the individual statistics and winning records, lets take a look at the support each quarterback has been getting from his teammates during that period of time.

I'll begin with the running game.

Obviously the more support the quarterback is getting on the ground will make it easier for him to throw by now being part of a balanced attack.

Essentially, the better your running game is, the less pressure there is on the pass and the easier it becomes to throw the football because the defense is being kept honest.

Here are the rushing totals of both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals between the years of 2004 and 2008.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2004-2008): 10,537 total team-rushing yards, an average of 2,107 rushing yards per season.

Cincinnati Bengals (2004-2008): 8,455 total team-rushing yards, an average of 1,691 rushing yards per season.

During the five years that both quarterbacks have been active, the Steelers have had a significant advantage in the running game. They've averaged 416 more rushing yards per season then the Bengals.

The result of such means Ben Roethlisberger has had more backing from the running game to help balance the passing attack.

This meant the defenses had to expect a potent running game as well as the Steelers' passing attack when playing against Roethlisberger.

On the other side, Carson Palmer was not getting the same backing from his running game.

This meant defenses knew he was more inclined to have to pass to succeed and were able to cover the passing game more aggressively.

What we have here is Carson Palmer having a higher completion percentage, throwing for more yards, more touchdowns, and less interceptions even though there was more pressure on him to throw the football.

The numbers are quite remarkable when looking at them under that context.

It would also only be fair to look at the backing both quarterbacks had in other areas of the offense as well.

I'll begin with the offensive line.

Since, Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 192 times and Carson Palmer has been sacked 108 times, this would lead many to believe that the Bengals had a better offensive line then the Steelers.

I wouldn't say this to be true.

Palmer is a pocket-passer who usually remains in the pocket.

Roethlisberger likes to move around more and create more plays. Often times he succeeds but that also results in more sacks from time to time.

Unless you’re a Bengals fan, you'd be hard pressed to be able to name a single offensive lineman besides Willie Anderson.

The Steelers always have more offensive lineman going to the Pro Bowl and they blatantly have an offensive line that makes room for more rushing yards.

Clearly, I'd say that the Steelers have had the better offensive line.

Now, we have the Wide Receivers. Cincinnati has become known for their star players, Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh—it would become easy to assume that Carson has had the better weapons to throw to.

Let's take a closer look.

Who do you feel is better? Chad Ocho Cinco or Hines Ward?

I'd be inclined to give the advantage to Ocho Cinco, but Ward is a heck of player himself who actually knows how to block.

It might not seem like much, but that does help on the plays when Roethlisberger isn't calling his number.

Then you have T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Most people feel he is one of the better threats in the game but he's only eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark twice in his eight-year career.

He's only eclipsed the 10-touchdown mark once in his eight-year career.

Although, he has been a reliable receiver, he's been far from a Superstar.

That being said, is he that much better then Santonio Holmes?

Could you name a single Tight End Carson Palmer has thrown too?

Most people can't either although many are familiar with Heath Miller.

My point is Palmer wasn't throwing to many caliber receivers beyond Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Even when looking at the receiving corps, I don't think Carson Palmer has had too much of an advantage their either.

Now, that we've covered the offense, let's cover the defense which is 50 percent of winning football games all together.

I'm going to compare in terms of points allowed because when it comes down to it, that's the biggest factor in determining the outcome of football games.

Here are the rankings of the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense from 2004 to 2008:

2004: First

2005: Third

2006: 11th

2007: Second

2008: First

That combines to an average of a 3rd ranked defense during the years that Roethlisberger was active.

Furthermore, his Steelers made the playoffs every year the defense was ranked in the top-10 and failed to do so the one and only time it was ranked just outside that range.

Here are the rankings of the Cincinnati Bengals defense from 2004 to 2008:

2004: 21st

2005: 22nd

2006: 17th

2007: 24th

2008: 19th

That combines to an average of a 20th ranked defense in the years that Palmer has been active. They were not even ranked in the better half of the league a single time in all five of Carson Palmer's years.

Considering that defense wins championships and plays a 50 percent role in winning football games, how much of an advantage do you think Ben Roethlisberger was getting when his defense ranked an average of third in the league when Palmer's ranked an average of 20th?

It is absolutely amazing how easily this slips the minds of many people …

Let me ask you this: how much better do you think Carson Palmer's statistics would have been had his defense been ranked an average of third in every year he played?

Obviously, playing with a poor defense requires Carson Palmer to have to play under more pressure.

Since, he clearly was not getting the backing on the other side of the ball that Roethlisberger was getting, then wouldn't it be logical to assume that playing when having to score points is more difficult then needing to score less points while letting your defense close the door and win?

So, what he has here is a much different comparison then most people would feel there to be.

Many people blend an individual player's talent in with the success of his team to get a perception of a player that might be higher then the reality.

I'm not taking anything away from Ben Roethlisberger, he's certainly one of the better quarterbacks of our generation.

When comparing Ben Roethlisbergerto Carson Palmer however, we see that Palmer has been more accurate, more productive, and has done so with far less backing then Roethlisberger has.

If you take into consideration all of the above points mentioned, you'll come to the conclusion that Carson Palmer is the better quarterback.

He might not have the luxury of playing for the better team but he certainly has proved to be more productive despite playing under far worse circumstances.

It might not be a popular choice but Carson Palmer is clearly the better quarterback of the two.


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