When a part of the body is described as being unusual, that’s rarely ever a good thing. At best it can make you really popular for a brief time in elementary school because you can bend your toe backwards, or make fart noises with your hands.

In football, unusual is death because we crave normal. Not normal players or normal athletes, of course. We need excellence there and nothing less, but for a player to be excellent his body has to function at an optimal level, and all of its many moving mechanisms have to be, yes, normal. That means in their normal position, and assembled in a normal fashion.

See, normal = good, unusual = bad.

Ben Roethlisberger is unusual, and that’s bad.

Roethlisberger left the Steelers’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs last night — a surprisingly entertaining overtime game — with a shoulder injury, and it was a very voyeuristic experience watching him progress through the various stages of pain, one which also resulted in Rick Reilly looking like a complete douchebag, which I suppose isn’t that hard to accomplish. We were breathlessly updated on his every move, including his walk away from the stadium with his wife.

It became clear that Roethlisberger wasn’t returning to the game when he sped away down the tunnel in a cart. But as is often the case in the middle of a game, we didn’t know how serious the injury was. We just knew that it was a shoulder injury, and that he most likely, almost surely wouldn’t be returning, and therefore Steelers fans would have to brace for Bryon Leftwich and his wonky throwing motion.

Not long after the game, reports began to emerge, which is when that curse word also surfaced. Roethlisberger is unusual, or at least we’ve been told that his right shoulder sprain is, although clarity is still our dark mistress.

Take it away, Jason Cole:

Roethlisberger was taken to a Pittsburgh hospital for an MRI exam, according to his agent, Ryan Tollner. In addition, one source indicated that the injury is “unusual,” although it’s unclear if that is good or bad news.

“There’s a lot to be figured out and we probably won’t know anything definitive until the morning, but that’s what the [Steelers] team doctor said,” a source said.

Cole repeats that a timetable is unclear at this point, although Roethlisberger was taken to a hospital, which strongly hints at something that’s the opposite of minor. Also, that word — UNUSUAL — still sort of sucks. Adding to the growing concern is a report from ESPN’s Ed Werder this morning in which his sources said that the Steelers fear a “pretty significant” injury to Roethlisberger’s throwing shoulder. Werder adds that Roethlisberger is “extremely sore,” and he’ll have another MRI to further gauge the significance of the injury. But what sucks more from a fantasy perspective and really any perspective of anyone who enjoys watching good football players do good tings is that Big Ben was being really awesome before his injury.

If we don’t count the drops from his receivers — thanks, Mike Wallace — Mike Clay from Pro Football Focus observes that Roethlisberger has completed 78 percent of his passes this year. That sounds stupid high because it is, but there’s likely a madness behind Roethlisberger’s method: Todd Haley. The Steelers’ new offensive coordinator has utilized an efficient passing game that relies on short, high percentage routes, with the average depth of Roethlisberger’s throws to non-running backs at only 9.1 yards, a number that’s been as high as 11.8 over the last four seasons.

The result of that has also been a drop off in passing yards per game (254.1 this year, 271.8 last year), and yards per attempt (7.2 this year, and 7.9 last year) but far more safety, and more scoring efficiency. Roethlisberger has thrown 17 touchdown passes through nine games after finishing with 21 throughout all of last year, but the percentage of his attempts that have turned into TDs has increased significantly (5.4 percent this year, and 4.1 last year). He’s also thrown far fewer interceptions in 2012, as he’s on pace to finish with just seven picks after chucking 14 last year.

What does this new, safe, and efficient Roethlisberger add up to for you, the Roethlisberger owner? Equally efficient fantasy production, as he’s averaged 16.4 points per week. That may not be dazzling, but it’s still very, very good considering the bargain price you paid for his services on draft day (likely around 85th overall in the ninth round).

The purpose of all this is simply to say get well soon, Ben. We need you, especially with playoff positioning in full jostle mode, and we’re deathly concerned about what a Leftwich sighting of any significance will do to the production of Mike Wallace, Heath Miller, and Antonio Brown once he’s healthy.

We already miss you so damn much. We miss your laugh, we miss your scent, and we miss your musk. When all this gets sorted out, we should just get an apartment together.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • A thorough statistical breakdown of Nick Foles’ first regular-season game appearance. [Sheil Kapadia]
  • Hey, thanks for benching Reggie Bush, Joe Philbin. Still hate you. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
  • Ahmad Bradshaw will undergo a battery of tests. This also sucks. [ESPN New York]
  • Oh sweet, Brady Quinn is healthy. It was fun while it lasted, Dwayne Bowe. [Kansas City Star]
  • Today in admitting to a massive, expensive mistake: the Falcons cut Ray Edwards. [Blogging Dirty]

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