Blog Entry

Comparing the quarterbacks

Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:20 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 1:57 pm

Posted by Andy Benoit

It’s always a treat when two star quarterbacks face off in the Super Bowl -- and it’s no coincidence that it’s happened each of the past three years (Peyton Manning-Drew Brees last season, Kurt Warner-Ben Roethlisberger in SB XLIII and Eli Manning-Tom Brady SB XLII).

Super Bowl XLV offers exactly what Super Bowl XLIV offered: a pair of quarterbacks operating at the height of their powers.

More than meets the eye

Because Ben Roethlisberger has spent his career playing on a team with a powerhouse defense and black-and-blue reputation, there is the misnomer that he is simply an outstanding caretaker. Because his statistical outputB. Roethlisberger (US Presswire) has been all over tA. Rodgers (US Presswire)he board -- his passer rating has been as low as 75.4 one year and as high as 104.1 another -- the debate about his place in the quarterback pecking order will carry on forever.

But what can’t be put into data form is how Big Ben looks on film. Michael Vick might be the most physically gifted athlete in football, but Roethlisberger is the most physically gifted quarterback. He makes plays as a pure passer that others can’t even fathom. Obviously, he has the unparalleled ability to throw with defenders draping off of him. But he is also effective in and out of the pocket. And he’s strong enough to throw from different platforms (i.e. when he’s on the move or when his feet aren’t set). And when Roethlisberger does square up and deliver a fundamentally sound pass, his ball practically whistles.

Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers are similar in this sense. Though not as physically imposing as the 6-foot-5 Roethlisberger, there isn’t a throw Rodgers can’t make. In fact, A-Rod’s velocity and accuracy are a notch better than Big Ben’s. And Rodgers is the more dangerous runner.

Interesting differences

More fascinating are the differences between these two quarterbacks. There’s really one only (besides Big Ben’s ability to make throws after contact). Before the snap, Rodgers is one of the best diagnostic artists in the game. He’s constantly reading defenses and re-aligning tight ends and running backs to alter his protections. Or he’s tacitly readjusting his receivers’ routes (hence the quick slants and smoke screens that have become the hallmark of Green Bay’s offense).

Because of his presnap diagnostic skills, Rodgers’ decisions are often made before the snap. 

Roethlisberger, on the other hand, makes the majority of his decisions after the snap. He’s not the most shrewd reader of defenses, but he compensates with improvisational instincts that are second to none. Roethlisberger is one of the few players in the league who understands defenses better once the ball is in play. Most quarterbacks can’t afford to begin a play behind the eight ball like this. But most quarterbacks don’t have the strength and temerity to constantly work out of a muddied pocket, or an almost otherworldly ability to manipulate defenders with multiple pump fakes. 

On the surface, it might sound like Rodgers’ is the superior style. After all, he’s smart before the snap and can always tap into his own outstanding improvisational skills when need be. But imagine if you’re a defensive coordinator trying to game plan against Roethlisberger. How do you scheme when the opposing quarterback does not follow traditional progressions and methods? You can’t bait him into bad decisions because he does not rely on making good decisions. And there are often no patterns to his decisions. Roethlisberger can be so unsound fundamentally that he’s impossible to trick.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, both quarterbacks are a nightmare to face. If you blitz Rodgers, he burns you with the quick strike. If you blitz Roethlisberger, there’s no guarantee that you’ll bring him down. If you drop back and play coverage against Rodgers, he’ll calmly shuffle through his progressions. If you drop back against Roethlisberger, he’ll buy time and make one of those sandlot plays that have killed so many defenses.

These are the issues you deal with when going up against these two. And these are the attributes that ultimately landed the Packers and Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:07 am

Comparing the quarterbacks

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Since: Feb 4, 2011
Posted on: February 4, 2011 9:55 am

Comparing the quarterbacks

While most would want to start a franchise with the more traditionally skilled Rodgers, there is one unique quality that Ben has that I have not seen in any of the other quarterbacks who are considered elite: he is never rattled when hit/sacked.  Every other QB, Rodgers included, lose their ability to perform if they are put on the ground too much.  Even Ben, of course, can't do his job if offensive line breaks down so much that he is afforded no space or time once-so-ever; however, a defense can hit him consistently and it doesn't affect his play.  So, unlike his peers, the opposing defense can have a good day (see Baltimore) and Ben can still lead his team to victory.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: February 4, 2011 7:53 am

Comparing the quarterbacks

Packer fans who have a CHILD RAPIST in their hall of fame should stop calling the kettle black!!

Since: Jul 1, 2008
Posted on: February 4, 2011 7:42 am

Comparing the quarterbacks

I love Ben too and I'm glad he's the one we ended up with since he's the perfect style for the Steelers, but I agree we would have taken any of the three at that point if there was only one left. I do want to clarify one thing though since I live in Cleveland and have pointed this out to my Browns neighbors quite often.....the Browns did have a chance to get him...they did pass on their native son. They took Winslow over Big Ben at # 6-7 and moved up one spot to do it. In fact, three teams that have desperately needed QBs over the years passed on him....the Raiders (Gallery), the Lions (R. Williams), and the Browns. Deep down I bet Ben likes playing against those 3 teams the best.

Since: Dec 8, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2011 10:55 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

THAT was what Cowher drafted him for-- 
I love the way Ben plays, and I think he is a top 3 QB, but Ben was drafted by Bill Cowher because he was the one left at the 11th pick. It was no secret that the Steelers were hoping one of the three would fall to them. If memory serves me Cowher seemed higher on Philip Rivers, of course that could have been a smoke screen. Point is he was simply drafted because he was the one that was left. They did not trade up to get a specific target. There is no guarantee the Browns were not going to take the Ohio native. Still he is awesome, and does an excellent job running the no huddle.

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2011 10:53 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Holy crap, Zen you said it just the way it is, the media screws everything up in this country, read a police report and get the facts, there is her side, his side and the truth, known of us were there,

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2011 10:45 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Well said Heinze57, two great QB's, Go Steelers!!!!

Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2011 10:35 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

I'm a Packer fan, but I doubt that Ben is a rapist either.  He's made errors in judgement trying to get laid when he is  a public figure and very suceptible to false charges.  Even the circumstances of his charges suggest no worse than 'young dumb and full of...' well, you can finish that or it will be censored.  The point is, though, that I doubt he's done much worse than many would do - given the opportunity.

As a quaterback he is one thing, more than everything else:  A winner.  Stat's be damned.   Jeff George had stats, but he was a loser.  Rothlisberger is a winner. 

Despite that - I believe Rodgers is a winner, too.  And added to other advantages he has (his arm, his receivers, his O-line) he will bring this Superbowl home for the Pack. 

Rodgers can do it.  Calling Ben Rothlisberger a rapist won't.

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2011 10:33 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

As a Steelers' fan, I think this was a pretty fair article, and I agree with it for the most part. I do think, that as I listen to the media this week (ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, etc.), most people are finally giving Ben his due as an excellent QB. I hear most people in sports media now ready to place Roethlisberger at No. 2 in terms of current QB's, just behind Brady. I'm no Brady fan, but I think this is fair. Ben has demonstrated he can air it out with the best of them when necessary (32 TD passes in 2007, over 4,000 yards passing in 2009, etc.) and his ability to hit the big play and lead fourth quarter comebacks is already legendary. When's all said and done, I would expect that Big Ben will be in the HoF, though hopefully he will be playing for the Steelers for plenty more years to come.

Go Steelers!

Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2011 10:25 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Excellent comment Pete.  People get so emotional (I am a Packer fan and what the Pack to win) but they fail to look at what is.  I have to admit I like that 'Rodgers is a witch'.  I get it, as I do your comments about Fantasy vs. Reality - until and unless Rodgers can prove otherwise.  I'm counting on him to do so this weekend, but if not, even more credence to your post.

Nice post, Pete.

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