By the time they reach their early thirties, franchise quarterbacks have typically carved out their role and their style.
Peyton Manning and Drew Brees each won their first super bowls at the age of thirty. While Tom Brady did enjoy his greatest post-season successes before age thirty, much of his statistical dominance has come post thirty. After never throwing more than thirty touchdowns in a season before 2007, Brady went on to do it 4 times from 2007 on.
This is the age at which quarterbacks have the experience and the intelligence to take their game to a new level. They are no longer hampered by decision-making, reading defenses, and leadership. They have established themselves and the game has slowed down.
Roethlisberger was the youngest quarterback to ever win the super bowl and he went on to appear in two more before the age of thirty—winning one. In the first championship game, Roethlisberger did not factor much into the game, having one of his poorest statistical performances. He was buoyed by a stingy and opportunistic defense. Even in the second win, in which he played well, he needed a defensive touchdown before half to have a chance.
Last season was one of Roethlisberger’s best. After a dismal four game start, Roethlisberger and the offense got back on track and the quarterback was effective through the season. He also played in all sixteen games—an uncommon feat for the ten-year veteran. If the offensive line can remain healthy and he can adapt to his new weapons, Roethlisberger should be in for more of the same the next few years.
After ten years in the league Roethlisberger has turned into a student of the game and a leader. As a rookie starter on a team loaded with pro bowl veterans, Roethlisberger had a tough time gaining traction as a leader. Now, there is no doubt who the leader of this team is. He wears number seven.
With a young athletic offensive line and a talented group of youthful skill players, Roethlisberger is well suited for success in his prime years.
In his early days as a Steeler, Big Ben was able to lean on a stout defense and a formidable running attack. The Steelers haven’t had a great running game in probably six seasons, and even the defense has slipped the past two years.
With a chance to get back to a good defense and good running game, a more efficient and intelligent Roethlisberger is primed to thrive. If he can repeat the success he had in the second half of last year and remain healthy, look for Roethlisberger to make the kind of push that other franchise quarterbacks have made in their thirties.
Now all the Steelers have to do is sign him.