When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Mason Rudolph, they did so with an eye toward the future, believing that he possesses the talent to be a candidate to succeed Ben Roethlisberger as the starting quarterback for the team, when Roethlisberger eventually hangs it up.
Rudolph didn’t look like he was succeeding very much during the 2019 season, when he had the opportunity to get extensive playing time, playing in 10 games and starting eight of them. But that doesn’t mean he’s on his way out. In fact, many saw progress in his game, even through his benching.
The Steelers recently started a position-by-position discussion segment on their website, and Matt Williamson was a guest on the program. He was asked to comment on Rudolph and what he saw from the two-year veteran.
“I look at him at this stage and think, he’s developing into a very strong, reliable number two”, he said. “It doesn’t mean that he’s Ben’s successor or he’s a future Hall of Famer, or anything like that, but he’s gonna be a very stable, developed number two, and that has a lot of value”.
At this point, many Steelers fans have a hard time really seeing him as anything. A lot of people want to see the team go out and sign a veteran backup, even though they don’t even have the cap space to sign anybody who would be an obvious upgrade to the Oklahoma State product.
Pretty much everybody who matters in the organization has already commented on the backup quarterback position this offseason, and all who have done so have said that the team is comfortable with Rudolph as the number two quarterback going into the 2020 season.
On the year, he completed 176 of 283 p ss attempts for 1765 yards, throwing 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He threw five interceptions in a two-game span that prompted his being benched, but two of his first four interceptions came as the result of passes that were dropped by his wide receivers.
The Steelers went 5-3 in the eight games that he started (they were 0-2 in the two games Roethlisberger started, and 3-3 in the games started by Devlin Hodges). But as was the case in pretty much all eight of their victories, the story was a lot more about the defense than the offense.
Isolating on Rudolph and what he was doing, though, do you see the growth, and the potential for him to take further steps? That’s the question that needs to be asked. Some of his biggest faults coming into the season, like his pocket presence, were things that he spent a lot of time working on, and he did improve upon them, yet they remained an issue.
One thing he did get in 2019 was plenty of experience, and he has to be better for it. He now knows how to prepare for a game as a starter, how to run the offense, and everything else that ties into it.