Study Gives Roethlisberger 192 Reasons to Worry
The study, like most reasonable studies, doesn't make any sweeping claims. It doesn't state definitively that Roethlisberger couldn't last another 10-plus years as a starter, but it does find some reasons to worry that he might end up washed up earlier than we might think.
The study looked at the 40 quarterbacks since 1970 who threw 1,000 passes by age 26 and averaged 6.0 yards per attempt -- so basically quarterbacks who were pretty good early in their career. The quarterbacks were divided into four groups of 10 -- heavily-sacked, above-average sacks, below-average sacks and the pristine jersey club.
What PFR found was that, while the heavily-sacked quarterbacks looks pretty good in their 20s, they fall off a cliff in their 30s. Of the 10 heavily sacked players, six of them were retired by age 33. Of the above-average sacks club, five of the 10 were retired by age 33. Of the least-sacked QBs, none were retired by age 33, and of the below-average sacks, only one was retired by 33.
You can argue that maybe the lightly-sacked quarterbacks were simply better than the heavily-sacked QBs, but Bert Jones (1 Pro Bowl), Don Majkwoski (1 Pro Bowl), Ken O'Brien (2 Pro Bowls) and Neil Lomax (2 Pro Bowls) all started out really well, the wear and tear of constant sacks did seem to take its toll. All of them were out of the league by the time they turned 33.
At age 26, Roethlisberger has been sacked more than any of them except for Lomax -- his 192 sacks is the fourth most of any quarterback at 26.
It's just another reason that the Steelers need to fix their offensive line problems. Even if you blame Roethlisberger for some of the sacks he takes -- he does hold onto the ball for quite a while -- the inescapable fact is that Pittsburgh has a line without one above-average linemen. Just this week, the Sporting News ranked the top 20 tackles, top 20 guards and top 10 centers in the NFL. Not one Steelers lineman made any of the lists.
Pittsburgh has invested $102 million in their franchise quarterback, now they need to make sure he makes it to the end of that contract.