Did Bruce Arians just take a shot at Ben Roethlisberger?

Bruce Arians comparing Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger didn’t end well for the Steelers quarterback.

The differences between the all-time greats and the all-time very goods are often small and almost always mental.

Take, for instance, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians’ recent assessment of quarterbacks he’s coached like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts and Ben Roethlisberger with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Here’s the thing about praise. Sometimes it’s a zero-sum game. In this case, Brady and Manning are the winners at Roethlisberger’s expense.

Bruce Arians’ praise of Tom Brady dinged Ben Roethlisberger

To be fair, there are worse things than not being able to match Brady and Manning’s flair for preparation. The vast majority of quarterbacks can’t. As far as knocks on Roethlisberger go, it’s a minor one and certainly not one done in bad faith.

Moreover, Roethlisberger was much younger when Arians coached him than Manning or Brady. A greater embrace of “that stuff” may have happened in the years since he left the Steelers. Arians wouldn’t exactly be privy to that internal growth.

Still, it does say something about the nature of greatness. A quarterback can play at a high level and win a lot of games because of it, but the best of the best are cut from a different cloth.

Brady and Manning are where they are in the pantheon of NFL quarterbacks because of the way they maximized their preparation and consistently performed.

Roethlisberger got to where he is on a different path. That path led him to two Super Bowl wins, so it certainly worked for him. However, he’s not on that top level.

In any case, Roethlisberger might have more left in the tank. He got the Steelers to 12-3 in 2020 with 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns over his 15 games. That’s not Brady-level, but it’s solid production for a player coming off of injury.