CLEVELAND -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has made quite the career for himself in the National Football League, and much of that success has come at the expense of a team in his home state, the Cleveland Browns.
In 22 games against the Browns, including 21 starts, Roethlisberger has guided the Steelers to a 20-2 record and posted a 97.1 quarterback rating.
“He is good,” said Browns coach Hue Jackson, who competed against Roethlisberger with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. “I have seen Ben so many times and I have great respect for him as a quarterback.
“He is a guy that is hard to bring down, and he makes a lot of uncommon plays in a lot different ways, running around with the ball and throwing the ball down the field. He has been very good at what he has done for a long time. Tremendous player.”
Against the Browns, Roethlisberger has completed 389 of his 623 attempts (62.44 percent) for 5,323 yards and 35 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. Despite being sacked 36 times for 232 lost yards, Roethlisberger has averaged 8.54 yards per attempt.
Roethlisberger has thrown for at least 300 yards against the Browns on five occasions, but three of those have come in the last four meetings, and the 379-yard, three-touchdown performance in a 30-9 win at home last season came when he was supposed to be on the shelf due to injury.
It is that kind of ability and consistency that the Browns are looking to build in the near future.
“What we need is a winning quarterback, let me put it like that,” Jackson said. “Obviously, Ben has a lot of great characteristics and I am not going to compare him to the guys that are on our roster, but do we want a guy that can win like him? Absolutely. Everybody does.
“He has won Super Bowls, he has won division titles and everything that you can do. Our team, our organization, we want to have a guy that we can say is a winning Super Bowl, division, quarterback, at some point. Think that is what we are going to get some day.”
And a winning quarterback is what the Browns are hoping to mold rookie Cody Kessler into.
Kessler has completed 119 of his 178 attempts for 1,241 yards and six touchdowns against one interception in seven appearances since being selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of USC.
“Situational football, we have to be very good in order to have a chance to win,” Jackson said. “You have to be good at third down. You have to be good in the scoring zone. You have to be good in two-minute and all the situations that happen in games because those things dictate and decide games. The next jump for him is in all those areas because it is something you have to do to be a good offensive football team.”