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: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2011 10:09 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Big Ben>Jesus

Since: Dec 19, 2008
Posted on: February 3, 2011 9:28 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Rogers or Roethlisberger? Going to be a great game. I'm thinking if its a blow out it has to be the Packers. But its going to be close because of Pittsburgh's defense. I think the key of ths game is which QB takes the least amount of sacks. Worthlessberger, yes I do not like the Steelers, can hang in there and get away from defenders all the time but the best way to bring him down is to smack the football. He'll drop then. Rogers isn't going to take a big hit if he sees it coming and he'll just go down. The latter is probably the best and if you get the Steelers thinking you're going to go down all the time its going to be in the Packs favor when he doesn't. The Packers secondary is really good and if Worthlessberger throws it up for a big play it could go the other way. Pittsburgh's been the team as of late though and the have recent Super Bowl experience so that a huge plus for them. They should be loose for the game and should have an opportunity to take the game right to the Packers in the early going. If either team gets up on the other it can make the other one dimensional. Running game is has to favor Pittsburgh. Mendenhall is a beast. Physical and fast. but the Packers can take him out of the game with an explosive offense and the ability to put up big numbers. Like I said....Going to be a good game. GO NFC!!!!

Since: Feb 1, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2011 8:54 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

So its not rape if you use a rubber?
You ever hear of the term "hush money"? 
Wake up pitsberg.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2011 8:46 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Who in the hell comes up with this stuff?  Do any of these "experts" know the difference between their elbow and their a-holes?

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.

Has the author seen ANY Steelers games at all?  THAT was what Cowher drafted him for-- his ability to read defenses and run the no-huddle/muddle offense.  QBs that have to read the defense after the snap or that aren't the most "shrewd" CANNOT run a no-huddle offense.....successfully or otherwise.

Seriously, I think some of these sports writers just make stuff up sometimes to give themselves something to write about.  This article gets an "F minus" for just re-plagiarizing and re-hashing all the same stuff we have been hearing about both QBs since the start of the season, and not even getting that part right.


Since: Jan 19, 2011
Posted on: February 3, 2011 8:23 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Finally I get to read something with some relevance to what this game is really about, the players! All week I have heard nothing other than how cold it is in Dallas, how media day is overrated, or about fing hair! Thank you for a very insightful look to the pros of each quaterback playing this sunday. The only thing I would say that could of made it better would be to evaluate the cons of each qb. We all know that Ben's ability to take hits, and Rogers ability to take off and run leave them susceptible to big hits. I really think that both defenses will be looking to deliever one of those big hits to put some fear in them. I would not be surprised if each d's gameplan early on is to jar the opposing quaterback, so that they don't take off and run(Rogers), or try and stand in the pocket and make a crazy play(Big Ben). Good read!

Since: Aug 14, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2011 6:36 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Stop the nonsense.

Ben is one tough SOB. A winner who is completely unique in the history of the NFL.

Rodgers is a witch. He is like an athletic, mobile version of classic QB's like Montana, Brees, manning.
Maybe Steve Young is a good comparison?

If I am drafting for Fantasy Football Rodgers is the obvious choice. If I am picking a QB to win games
I'd have to go with Ben. Rodgers has to prove it 1st. He just might do that on Sunday.

Great Game- I can't wait!

Since: Feb 22, 2008
Posted on: February 3, 2011 5:48 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Mike Wilbon?  I don't really think his opinion is worth any more than mine.

I have never been a huge fan of Ben.  I don't like to place him at the top of the league because his asset seems to be making about three big plays a game.  If you ask me before kickoff if I want someone like Rodgers who will probably just be locked into a zone all game versus someone like Ben who will impress you about 1 out of every 10 snaps I'd take Rodgers in a heartbeat.  I think the reason gets away with is because the way the Steelers play, keeping games close enough and waiting for lightening to strike.  You don't see him dominating too many games from start to finish.  If Ben had to control games for 60 minutes I don't think he would be nearly as successful as the QBs that do things like that, such as Brady, Brees, Manning, Rodgers, etc.  There are differing theories about who you would rather have and good reasons to prefer Ben (as a QB, not as a human being), but I'd take Rodgers no matter how many rings Ben gets until he shows me something more conventional that convinces me he can win in different systems.

Since: Feb 23, 2009
Posted on: February 3, 2011 5:02 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Except that Mike Wilbon (at the four letter network website) has already picked him as the one quarterback he wants to win a game for him. You don't have to like Ben, in particular off the field. But you should understand it's not just coincidence that he makes so many big plays in big games.

Since: Apr 26, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2011 5:01 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Do the reports online also state how much money he passed under the table to keep all these women quiet? Why else did Big ben surround himself with policemen and firemen? To try and keep his reputation intact, until...

Since: Apr 26, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2011 4:59 pm

Comparing the quarterbacks

Yeah, but Aaron Rodgers hasn't served a 4 game suspension for his actions.

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