College bars in Georgia aren’t the place to find an ultra-aggressive Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers’ quarterback has pieced together arguably his best season of a seven-year NFL career. After a four-game league mandated suspension to start the season for violating the league’s conduct policy, Roethlisberger has tossed for 3,200 yards and 17 touchdowns with a career-low five interceptions.
Roethlisberger is a game changer and a big focal part of the Jets defensive game plan come Sunday.
“He wants to throw the ball down the field, he’s not just content with a check down,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. “He wants to light you up.”
Part of what makes him so tough isn’t just his passing ability but his size. At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, the man called “Big Ben” is built more like a linebacker then a quarterback. Ryan said his team needs to target the ball and disrupt the Steelers quarterback, and not focus on getting sacks as his physical size makes him nearly impossible to take down.
In the Week 15 win over the Steelers, Jets cornerback Drew Coleman managed to force a fumble on Roethlisberger. Generously listed as 5-foot-9, Coleman is a good eight inches shorter then Roethlisberger and loses about 60 pounds to the Steelers’ quarterback. Coleman wasn’t thinking take down when he had the quarterback in his sites.
“He’s a tank, you’re not taking him down,” Coleman said. “You focus on making a play and getting that ball if you can because he’s tough to take down. What makes it tougher is that he’s good when he’s running around and can make plays with his feet, on the move. So even if you get him out of the pocket, he’s gonna make a play.”
Given his physical attributes, the Jets are aware that their task on Sunday to limit the Pittsburgh quarterback is a big one. Roethlisberger’s comfort out of the pocket coupled with his vision makes him a tall order to take down. Coleman said that the focus of the defense is get the ball first then worry about “Big Ben.”
“He’s a big guy but you tackle the football,” linebacker Jason Taylor said. “If you tackle the football, then you know, you don’t have to knock him down if you’re knocking the ball out. That’s kind of the thing you try to do with someone like him. And if you do get your arms around him, then hold on and hope your teammates are running through the ball to help you out.”