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Monday, January 24, 2011

Steelers Roethlisburger Sets Himself Apart From Brady and Manning

When you think of the best quarterbacks in the NFL most people would think of Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and of course the one and only Peyton Manning of the Colts. But how many of you would throw Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger into the mix as well as being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and what sets him apart from Brady and Manning?

Probably the single element that separates him from the others is his ability to prolong the play. Roethlisberger can get himself out of trouble by being able to scramble out of the pocket when under pressure and either run or roll and throw his way out of trouble. Prolonging the play enables his downfield receivers the time to get themselves open so that they can bail out the big quarterback who has a great knack for finding these receivers open and turning what looked like a sack and loss into a huge gain. Even against one of the best prepared defences in the league in the New York Jets, Roethlisberger was able to do something that both Manning and Brady were unable to do and that's to beat the Jets!

So what does this tell us as coaches?

It tells us that a well designed and prepared defensive game plan will fall apart when a good quarterback is mobile and able to be creative and prolong the play. Normally, your defensive plan is based on the other team's tendencies, strengths and what they like to do offensively in a given situation. When teams are good they tend to do things consistently well all the time at a high level. As a defensive co-ordinator you are able to game plan for this as you know what they like to do. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning like to be in the pocket and they do not run the football when in trouble, they will hang in there until the last minute which was their demise against the Jets in both their play-off losses as they were sacked by the Jets defence. Big Ben separated himself by being able to be mobile. This mobility was not factored into the Jets game plan and in the end it cost them a trip to the Super Bowl as Ben made plays out of nothing that moved the chains and vaulted the Steelers into the Super Bowl.

Both Manning and Brady were not mobile against the Jets defence. Their usual surgical like approach was hindered by the Jets patient game plan of not being too predictable in their defensive schemes and blitz's. The Jets were able to create confusion and then pressure Brady and Manning into making mistakes and miscues and allowing them more of an option to run the football rather than throw which is not in their comfort zone. Roethlisberger, however, is comfortable running and rolling with the football which is what separated him from the other two great quarterbacks.