Can Mason Rudolph lead the Steelers to the playoffs?


Mason Rudolph is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starter for the rest of the year now that Ben Roethlisberger is out. Can Rudolph take an 0-2 team to the playoffs?

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are in no doubt a rough spot as a team entering Week 3. They are 0-2 on the year, two games back of the archrival Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. Franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out for the year after undergoing elbow surgery. His replacement is second-year pro Mason Rudolph. Can he lead the Steelers to the playoffs?

On this week’s episode of Stacking the Box, FanSided‘s Matt Verderame and Josh Hill, along with former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz analyze if the Steelers can feel good about trotting Rudolph out there for the rest of the season (6:46).

They also address if the Steelers might regret trading a first-round pick for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick with the Miami Dolphins on Monday evening (9:19). Regardless of how they end up, these are two huge changes in personnel for the Steelers this early in the season. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Steelers are up against it this year with so much adversity already.

Will Rudolph lead the Steelers to the playoffs this season? Verderame emphatically says, “no,” but Schwartz has a bit more of a wait-and-see approach to what the Steelers will get out of Rudolph this season.

Schwartz would cite a few quarterbacks not taken in the first round of NFL Drafts that have had success in the league like Tom Brady, Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson, but does feel that the odds are against Rudolph to becoming a franchise quarterback for the Steelers.

But with the Steelers trading a first-round pick in next year’s great quarterback draft to Miami for Fitzpatrick, as well as shipping former Pittsburgh backup Joshua Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars, maybe the Steelers do believe that Rudolph is the heir apparent to Roethlisberger on the Steel City gridiron?

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Rudolph does have the prototypical size to succeed in the AFC North, as well as a strong collegiate resume from his great career in the Big 12 playing for Oklahoma State. However, he was seen as the sixth-best quarterback prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft, so maybe Verderame and Schwartz have a point?

As for if the Steelers will regret trading away next year’s first-round pick to add Fitzpatrick to their secondary, Schwartz and Verderame are divided on it, but for totally different reasons. Schwartz feels Pittsburgh might regret it because Roethlisberger may not be the same player when he comes back from injury and could miss out on drafting a blue-chip prospect this spring.

Verderame, however, doesn’t think that the Steelers will be in a position to draft presumably Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert or Jake Fromm at the top of next year’s draft. Even if the Steelers bottom out with Rudolph as the starter, who is to say that Tagovailoa, Herbert or Fromm will end up being elite quarterback prospects anyway? All of which have their flaws as college passers.

Other topics discussed on Stacking the Box this week include:

  • Will Antonio Brown be on the New England Patriots roster when the playoffs start? (22:15)
  • Will Cam Newton be the Carolina Panthers quarterback in 2020? (25:45)
  • Which of the winless teams have the best chance to make the playoffs? (35:08)
  • Are the 2019 Miami Dolphins the worst team in NFL history? (38:06)

All this and more!

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