Apologies and therapy aside, the Steelers thought about dumping their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, last month. Even with Roethlisberger's six game suspension, I was surprised to hear Pittsburgh was shopping their signal caller as the details of his sexual scandal became public. Yet, there might have been an internal debate in the organization over how valuable he really is to their team. My Browns fan friends and I had the same debate.
The debate was two-fold. One, is he overrated because of his team's outstanding defense? Two, would he look good in a Browns uniform?
As a Cleveland fan, I have always felt Big Ben was the second coming of John Elway; put on this earth to come-from-behind, improvise on broken plays, and shatter my heart for a full decade. The argument for Roethlisberger in a Browns uni is a good one. He’s better than almost any quarterback in the league (right?).
He has more experience and moxie than any quarterback the Browns have, or really could hope to draft. Developing a QB is such a crap-shoot anyway, so why not take the guy with two rings?
Big Ben also has a wonderful reputation for coming from behind in big games. He’s done it to the Browns four or five times, and there is the indisputable tape of his 100 yard drive in the closing minutes of the Super Bowl. Still, I wonder if Browns fans have been hypnotized into thinking Big Ben is something he is not because we haven’t had a good quarterback on the roster for over a decade.
Moreover, does Big Ben’s defense make him better than he really is, or does he make his defense better?
The argument against the Browns trading for Big Ben last month had more to do with the doubt that he really is the difference maker on his team. Did the Steelers have this doubt too as, or if, they dangled him out there for a top ten pick?
The Steelers have always been a defense first team. If you look at Ben’s stats, you'll find that he is nothing more than a Game Manager right? How else could he go 14-0 as a rookie in this league?
At least that’s what I thought.
So to settle this, I put together a fun little research project. Observe the statistical grids linked below, comparing Ben Roethlisberger’s stats with every other QB who won a Super Bowl this decade. We have two grids, one which compares the regular season stats of all these QB’s in the year they won the Super Bowl. The other gives a statistical comparison of the same QB’s through their playoff run to winning that Super Bowl.
I even broke the group into two groups of five: the Game Managers (Brown) and the Play Makers (Green).
Game Managers are QBs who play with an elite defense and running game, don't throw a lot of passes, and aren't asked to win the game. The Play Maker is a fun term for the opposite; your Drew Brees type who plays with a bad defense and wins the game with his arm. Initially, I tried to prove Big Ben was nothing more than an overrated Game Manager, though I suspected he was more. I included the postseason grid for this reason.
Big Ben is joined by fellow Game Managers Brad Johnson, Eli Manning, and Trent Dilfer/Tony Banks (combined stats from when the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000. Both guys started 8 games, though Dilfer played throughout the playoffs). The Play Makers are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees. That’s 7 guys over 10 years, Brady and Ben won multiple championships.
Sorry if you don’t agree with my categorizing. This was just a hypothesis to look at five years of Game Managers and five years of Play Makers to see how things played out.
This study was also intended to shed some light on another assumption the Cleveland gang and I had come to believe. You win the Super Bowl two ways: you either have the best defense in the league, and trot out poster boy game managers like Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer, OR you have the once in a generation type Quarterback dreams are made of.
Thus, the defensive ranking each QB played with the year they won the Super Bowl has been included.
Total yards have been eliminated from the postseason stats because taking the average of Big Ben’s seven post-season games and comparing it to the average of the field’s 27 post-season games makes no sense. In the regular season they are all judged on a uniform 16 game schedule.
If ever a player started less than 15 regular season games, his stats have been adjusted as if he did. This makes the * seasons less than perfect, but it should be pretty close. I did this for 2001 Brad Johnson, another presumed Game Manager, and 2005 Big Ben.
The fairest and most logical comparison turned out to be going with Big Ben’s averages from both his Super Bowl years, against the average of everyone else. Click on the links to download the grids, then take a look at eh conclusions I have numbered below. Hope you enjoy (spoiler alert Big Ben actually is good)…