Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The one constant
The time has come to point the finger at the real blame for much of the Steelers problems with protection of the quarterback.
In 2006, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 46 times working behind the same offensive line that had given up 32 sacks the previous season - eight of which were recorded against potted plant Tommy Maddox.
Roethlisberger's 23 sacks came on 268 pass attempts in 2005, while his 46 sacks the next season came on 469 attempts. By comparison, Charlie Batch, who threw 53 passes in 2006, was sacked just three times.
In 2007, Roethlisberger went down 47 times on 404 pass attempts, more than one time per 10 pass attempts. Batch threw 36 passes and was not sacked.
The line was a little different. Sean Mahan replaced Jeff Hartings at center and Willie Colon was in place of Max Starks at right tackle. Marvel Smith also missed some time at left tackle, with Starks replacing him.
But remember, Smith missed some time in 2005 and was replaced by Trai Essex, then a rookie. And still, the Steelers gave up 32 sacks on 379 pass attempts that season.
Roethlisberger has already been sacked 12 times this season, including eight on Sunday against Philadelphia.
Again, the line is different, with Justin Hartwig replacing Mahan and Chris Kemoeatu in for Alan Faneca.
The only constant has been Roethlisberger.
The biggest problem on Sunday against the Eagles was that on a number of occasions, Philadelphia sent more guys after Roethlisberger than the line could block.
But when the defense is sending six pass rushers and you have five blockers, the quarterback is responsible for the extra man.
But Roethlisberger trusts his scrambling ability too much. How many times on Sunday did we see him try to scramble up into the pocket to escape on oncoming rusher only to step into a sack? Five, six?
Think he would have been better served getting rid of the ball or taking a shot throwing to a receiver working on one-on-one coverage?
Certainly not all of the blame lies with Roethlisberger. The line play was not good - particularly once the Eagles got rolling.
But Roethlisberger's got to realize that when the defense is rushing six or seven guys, he's got one-on-one coverage.
He's got to recognize that and take a shot at beating the one-on-one. That's the only way teams will stop sending the house at him.
Posted by Dale Lolley at 11:50 PM