Bill Polian: Ben Roethlisberger Is on Same Level as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning
For pretty much the last decade, the quarterback debate amongst fans in the NFL has been Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. We already know Rex Ryan’s answer to the question, but after his Jets knocked both players out of the playoffs, one can’t help but wonder if other quarterbacks have caught up. Drew Brees’ Saints won the Super Bowl last year, Aaron Rodgers is playing in his first big one this year, and Ben Roethlisberger has a chance to tie Brady if he can win his third ring next weekend. So have some of these quarterbacks closed the gap and joined the elite ranks?
Bill Polian certainly thinks that is the case.
The Colts president told Sam Farmer of the LA Times “Bottom line, if you ask football people, they’re going to put Ben Roethlisberger up there with [Manning and Brady] almost unanimously. No one would leave him out. And others who have made the Pro Bowl, for example, wouldn’t even get consideration if you took a poll of all 32 general managers.”
I started off thinking that Roethlisberger was overrated and the product of an outstanding defense and good running game. While he certainly was carried to his first Super Bowl win by the defense and refs, and he still is benefiting from a spectacular defense, my opinion of the alleged rapist has changed. He does not have the spectacular stats of Manning or the sterling reputation of Brady, but he has proven he can put up big numbers (32 touchdowns in 2007; 4,328 yards in 2009), and there is a lot to be said about the way he wins games.
The guy makes plays many other quarterbacks can’t, and he converts key first downs in difficult situations. He’s tough, hard to bring down, and he makes things happen. What we’ve learned is that going 0-3 on three throws but completing a 20-yard pass on 4th down is more valuable than going 3-3 for 9 yards and missing a throw on 4th and 1. Roethlisberger may benefit from a stellar defense, but I don’t believe the Steelers would have enjoyed the success they have with another quarterback.