Where does Big Ben stand in the NFC North?
By: Reese Nasser
Ben Roethlisberger has been doing this football thing for a long time now, and at a very high level. He has achieved nearly every accolade possible and in his now 18th season, Roethlisberger will look to prove that he is still capable of playing and making an impact. He has played in 233 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers and has led them to two super bowl victories.
But as time has progressed, a new wave of quarterbacks have arrived in the AFC West. Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, and Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals are all fighting for the top spot in the division. But is it Roethlisberger’s to lose? Where does he rank among the four quarterbacks within his division? Let’s take a look?
4. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
The second-year pro will have a lot to prove this season. But, after coming off of a torn ACL in his rookie season and only appearing just 10 games, he hasn’t proven to be better than any other quarterback within his division just yet.
Burrow did show real promise in his rookie season and can’t be discounted due to injury. The pace that he was on during his rookie season would have been the greatest in Bengals history for a first-year quarterback.
He has also proven to be a true leader for this Bengals team. He was a captain by week one and had the entire team supporting him all throughout his rookie season.
With a strong second-year, Burrow should and will rise to a higher spot than fourth best in the division.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
The 39-year old quarterback threw for 26 touchdowns but also had 15 turnovers. The season also started out very well for the team as a whole as Big Ben led them 11 straight wins.
But as the season reached the end, the Steelers team began to look much different. Over the last four games, Roethlisberger threw for eight touchdowns but also added four interceptions.
In the Steelers only postseason game, Big Ben was outdueled by the younger Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Big Ben threw four touchdowns but also four interceptions. While it may not have been an age issue, Big Ben did look different at points this season.
The Steelers constructed the offense to be both faster and shorter. While it worked, it somewhat eliminated the options on offense. This puts Big Ben as the third best quarterback in this division.
2. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield proved to be a strong leader for this Cleveland Browns team. He played consistently throughout much of the season and was responsible for 27 total touchdowns. His biggest issue was turnovers but over the last nine regular season games, he threw only one interception.
The turn around that he made after week nine is worth noting. He looked like a completely different quarterback when he was on the field and his control of the team was clear.
In the wild card round of the playoffs, Mayfield threw three touchdowns in a strong showing against the Steelers. He also played a valiant game against the Kansas City Chiefs that ended in a 22-17 loss.
Baker will look to have a big 2021 season and a super bowl will be on the mind of everyone in the Browns organization. He has proven to not only be a top quarterback in the AFC West but also within the entire NFL.
1. Lamar Jackson. Baltimore Ravens
The 2019 MVP comes in as the #1 quarterback in the AFC West. Jackson has proved to be a top quarterback in the NFL and has consistently led the Baltimore Ravens to success.
In 2020, Jackson and the Ravens had an 11-5 regular season. Their season came to an end in the divisional round to the Buffalo Bills. This was one of the few games where Jackson appeared average and he and the rest of the Ravens struggled with a strong Bills team.
Throughout the 2020 season, Jackson showed that 2019 was no fluke. He threw for 26 touchdowns and 2,757 yards. He also added another seven touchdowns on the ground and ran for over 1,000 yards.
He led the division in touchdowns and achieved this success while having a receiving core that ranked near the bottom of the league.
Now that the Ravens added two strong receivers in the draft, Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace, you can expect to see an even bigger season out of Lamar in 2021. His potential, along with the rest of the Ravens, could be unmatched.
Big Ben has had a long and successful career but younger quarterbacks are slowly starting to catch up and surpass. While 2021 could be a resurgence, one last push, he is still the third best quarterback in this division, at least for now.