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Is Ben Roethlisberger being sacked into an early retirement?

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"Ben Roethlisberger gets sacked too much, and the Steelers should be concerned about that" was one of the most popular themes of last season. As it turned out, the Steelers survived any problems with their offensive line, and then went on to give a big Lombardi Trophy-sized middle finger to everyone who said their pass blocking wasn't good enough.

But it was good enough last year. The dangers of Ben Roethlisberger(notes) getting sacked a lot, however, might not be so short-term.

There was some interesting work done at earlier this week about how the number of sacks a quarterback takes early in his career can affect how (or if) he plays later in his career. Here's a little bit about how the research went:

I pulled all quarterbacks debuting since 1970 who threw at least 1,000 passes by age 26, and had a career yards per pass attempt of 6.0 or higher through age 26, and then looked at their sack rates. Some of those quarterbacks are still active, so I excluded any that were age 36 or younger and still playing last year.

That left a nice, even forty quarterbacks. The correlation coefficient between sack percentage through age 26, and the player’s age in their last season in the NFL, is -0.335. This negative correlation means that the quarterbacks who took a higher percentage of sacks at a young age did tend to retire at an earlier age.

You can go read more details about the research here, but the bottom line is that guys who get sacked as much as Ben Roethlisberger (and only three guys in history have been sacked more than Ben Roethlisberger through age 26) aren't nearly as likely to be starting quarterbacks past their 33rd birthday. The four names closest to Roethlisberger's on the "number of times sacked through the age of 26" are Neil Lomax, David Carr(notes), Tim Couch(notes), and Tony Banks.

Obviously, Large Benjamin is ten times the quarterback any of those guys are, but he's not superhuman. Longevity will be an issue if they can't keep him off his back.

Gracias, JJ Cooper at the FanHouse.

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