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Ben Roethlisberger: I don’t know how to avoid taking hits

Ben Roethlisberger AP

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says that for anyone who wants him to change the way he plays to avoid taking hits and stay healthier, he has some bad news: He doesn’t know how.

Roethlisberger spoke to reporters in the Steelers’ locker room today and said that the key to staying healthy is to avoid getting hit. But the only way he knows how to play the quarterback position is the way he’s always played it, and sometimes contact is part of that.

“I don’t think there’s this big revelation, like I need to do this or I need to do that,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s, ‘Don’t take hits.’ But I don’t know how to do that.”

Of course, it could be on the Steelers’ coaches — specifically new offensive coordinator Todd Haley — to teach Roethlisberger how. But Roethlisberger said that all the coaches can do is change the Steelers’ protections, because he has no intention of changing the way he plays.

“I’m not going to change my game,” Roethlisberger said. “Coach can do what he wants to add protection and do things like that, but I’m going to play the game the way I know how. It’s worked OK for me so far.”

It’s easy to see why Roethlisberger would think he doesn’t need to change: He’s been awfully successful the way he is. But three months after he turned 30 years old, it may be time for him to think about how he can keep playing well for years to come, by finding a way to take fewer hits.

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22 Responses to “Ben Roethlisberger: I don’t know how to avoid taking hits”
  1. steelcurtainn says: Jun 13, 2012 6:36 PM

    Better line is how you avoid taking hits. Welcome David Decastro!!!!Do that and Big Ben and the Steelers will end up with another ring or two. Big Ben doesn’t need to change nothing.

  2. mancinibread says: Jun 13, 2012 6:55 PM

    Our QB is legitimately mentally retarded. I hate having to root for this guy…sigh.

  3. Deb says: Jun 13, 2012 6:59 PM

    Better line is part of it. But I disagree that Ben doesn’t need to change anything.

    Another way you avoid taking hits is to study film, study film, study film so you know exactly what to expect from the opposing defense–how they’ll attack and what kind of coverage they’ll present. And work on your delivery. Practice, practice, practice. Ben, himself, admitted after working with a quarterbacks coach during his suspension that his mechanics improved dramatically. He learned he could have a faster release. If you know how the coverage will line up and you’re prepared to release the ball even a nanosecond faster, that–coupled with better protection–will mean you take fewer hits.

    Ben is one of the most naturally gifted quarterbacks I’ve seen in a long time. But his early success has convinced him he doesn’t have to work at getting better. Few people succeed in this world on talent and ego alone. What might he have accomplished if he’d be willing to push himself to the next level?

  4. CKL says: Jun 13, 2012 7:00 PM

    Here, let me help:

    1) learn to make quicker decisions (studying more helps)
    2) Learn to throw the ball away
    3) Be coachable

    All those are things a QB can do that has nothing to do with his OL and lessens hits.

  5. letmesetyoustraight says: Jun 13, 2012 7:01 PM

    If Big Ben could learn to read a defense, he would get hit a lot less. He is still a one-read QB who starts scrambling when his primary receiver is not open. Yeah, he’s big enough to break some tackles, but he resorts to street ball after the designed play falls apart.

  6. dirtybird28 says: Jun 13, 2012 7:06 PM

    He’s not incredibly mobile, and their offensive line should be much improved. So this question was a waste of time…

  7. Gordon says: Jun 13, 2012 7:10 PM

    How can he change his style if his O-Line is Swiss cheese? Maybe it’ll be different this year, but the line played like garbage for the past few years (except Pouncey).

  8. letmesetyoustraight says: Jun 13, 2012 7:44 PM

    Gordon says:Jun 13, 2012 7:10 PM

    How can he change his style if his O-Line is Swiss cheese? Maybe it’ll be different this year, but the line played like garbage for the past few years (except Pouncey).

    =====

    Gordon, Ben makes it very hard to protect him when he is constsantly looking to run around instead of staying in the pocket. As others have said, he needs to work harder with film study and reading defenses.

  9. citizenstrange says: Jun 13, 2012 7:58 PM

    True dat. Roethlisberger is the master of the 13-9 win against crappy teams.

  10. Gordon says: Jun 13, 2012 8:04 PM

    letmesetyoustraight says:

    Gordon, Ben makes it very hard to protect him when he is constsantly looking to run around instead of staying in the pocket. As others have said, he needs to work harder with film study and reading defenses.
    ===========

    Sorry, but do you realize the reason he’s not in the pocket is because the Swiss cheese line lets pressure get through too easily?

    I’m not even a Steelers fan,but I have seen a bunch of their games the past few years. This guy has been making tons of plays outside of the pocket, because he has no time in the pocket.

  11. holeinone09 says: Jun 13, 2012 8:16 PM

    Agree the OL play has been the major reason Ben has had to run for his life. I have seen him go through reads and throw marvelous passes when he had time. Still, he can improve, like just about every QB, with more study and discipline. The fact is he is a big guy and more of a gunslinger who probably looks for the big play opportunity more often than most. I hope he continues to develop, with an improved OL, while still having the guts to take some calculated risks. Lets face it, sometimes the defense makes a great play or has tight coverage also ;) . Glad he is on my team. He is a proven winner who is exciting to watch and the best QB we have had since Bradshaw by far.

  12. shlort says: Jun 13, 2012 8:27 PM

    One simple answer for Big Ben. MOVE! Yeah, thats right.. If the pocket starts to collapse, get out of there and look for the outlet reciever that every offense uses. Or, throw the ball away. Every team needs a hero, but when you play like you did the end of last season (because you were too injured to play), you arent helping your team win.

  13. Deb says: Jun 13, 2012 8:38 PM

    @Gordon …

    Believe me, after going through those 19 years between Bradshaw and Roethlisberger, I appreciate what we have in Ben. Yes, much of the blame for his hits fall on the horrendous offensive-line play of recent years. And holeinone09 is right about his gunslinger mentality. Some of the biggest plays of his career were made because he had enough faith in himself to just throw it all out there, damn the consequences. As with Favre–and I was a huge Favre fan–you have to take the bad with the good when it comes to that type of player.

    But it frustrates me when Ben keeps saying it’s impossible for him to up his game. He learned when working with the QB coach two seasons ago that just isn’t true. I don’t want him to stop being who he is on the field. But I do want him to maximize his talent–for his own sake as well as the team’s. I don’t know that we’ll ever again see a player who can take as much abuse as Favre did and keep getting up. Better for Ben to spare himself some wear and tear.

  14. randallflagg52 says: Jun 13, 2012 8:38 PM

    A QB who still can’t read defenses after close to a decade in the NFL and a below average offensive line makes for some happy pass rushers. Maybe some of Ben’s poor choices off the field are a result of him taking too many hits on the field, just a thought.

  15. tomthebombtracy says: Jun 13, 2012 8:54 PM

    Last Sunday morning NFL Network replayed the Steelers-Ravens AFC Championship game, the one Troy sealed with the late pick six and the Steelers on their way to the SB 43 win.

    Every big play Ben seemed to make was on the run, out of the pocket….and last year they had his career passer rating out of the pocket and it was off the charts.

    In that game also Sweed dropped a TD, Santonio had one overturned when he was sloppy with the ball at the end of the play and Willie Parker dropped a huge gainer right in his mits.

    Gave me more appreciation for Big Ben. I remember watching his college highlights…every play was on the run.

    Don’t change, Ben.

  16. nickster31 says: Jun 13, 2012 9:18 PM

    randallflagg52 says: Jun 13, 2012 8:38 PM

    A QB who still can’t read defenses after close to a decade in the NFL and a below average offensive line makes for some happy pass rushers. Maybe some of Ben’s poor choices off the field are a result of him taking too many hits on the field, just a thought.

    What poor choices are you talking about? You do realize that Ben has gotten married, and they have a baby on the way, right?

    It is funny that a lot of these comments miss the point of the way Ben plays. Yes, he is a gunslinger. Always has been, always will be. Same as his idol John Elway.

    Ben will always be Ben, and the Steelers will win because of it. It is better to have Ben play the way he does, and have his career last another 5 years than have him try to change his game, become a shell of his former self, and last another 10.

    Players play, and that is what Ben is going to do. Steelers fans should be happy about this, because it will put some more hardware in the trophy case.

  17. citizenstrange says: Jun 13, 2012 10:59 PM

    WOAH! Roethlisberger is nowhere near as good as Favre on his very best day and Favre’s very worst.

    Roethlisberger just sucks against good teams. Roethlisberger cannot carry his team against a top 15 defense.

    A 35-7 loss to the Ravens and a 20-3 loss to the 49ers and getting crazily outplayed by Tim freakin’ Tebow to go one and done would prove my point.

    The highlight of Roethlisberger’s 2011 season was scoring 23 points — don’t include Polamalu’s illegal batting of the ball for a safety — against the Patriots very worst defense in the entire NFL. Mazel tov!

    Against good teams in big games Roethlisberger absolutely sucks.

    The Steeler defense is the key to the highway.

  18. youboettcha says: Jun 13, 2012 11:55 PM

    I know how he can stop a guy from hitting him: stare the guy down.

    I vividly remember watching on NFL Live (maybe ’09) where a pass rusher coming from Ben’s right is running full speed at him. Ben stared him down, took a step toward him, and they guy fell on his backside. The NFL Live guy yelled “Boo!” It was hilarious. I can’t find the youtube video, sadly.

  19. steelcurtainn says: Jun 14, 2012 1:01 AM

    @deb&ckl. I agree with both of your points no doubt. Ben can always get better, and definitely needs to take less hits to survive in this league. I believe this years draft is going to make a significant difference for the Future of Big Ben and he indeed will start taking less sacks even if he hangs on to the ball to extend the play like he normally does. Thats not gonna change once he’s outside the pocket. I do have to disagree with one part I dont believe his early success/superbowl wins has anything to do with Ben not working to get better. I believe he’s always worked hard and is always working to get better. He’s just been missing some pieces to the puzzle (meaning the offensive line,)in order to get this team back on top again. Otherwise, great post couldnt agree more.

  20. amg503 says: Jun 14, 2012 3:40 AM

    There’s another issue worth considering: they won’t have any additional help if they make the Super Bowl this year, since the officials are on strike.

    The replacements won’t know how to make calls blatantly in their favor.

    Yes I went there.

  21. Deb says: Jun 14, 2012 1:28 PM

    @citizenstrange …

    I said Roethlisberger has a gunslinger mentality like Favre. Nowhere did I compare the two in terms of the quality of their play. Favre was one of a kind.

  22. ppdoc13 says: Jun 14, 2012 4:09 PM

    Ben will be like Steve McNair. At about age 33 his body will start to fail him. It is just the type of QB he is.

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