Mason Rudolph hasn’t exactly improved by leaps and bounds since taking over as the Steelers starting quarterback. Here’s why fans should be concerned.
When Mason Rudolph first appeared in an NFL game, he impressed us all. In just one half of play against the Seahawks, Rudolph managed to throw up 2 touchdown passes as the Steelers fought back and eventually lost by just two points.
However, since that time, the second-year signal-caller hasn’t made the improvements we all expected him to make.
Though Pittsburgh’s defense was fantastic most of the game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Rudolph’s offense failed to capitalize on many occasions. It started with an interception on the first drive of the game (that admittedly was not Rudolph’s fault, as the ball bounced off the hands of JuJu Smith-Schuster). However, Rudolph was not able to rebound and get things going. He finished the game with just 191 yards on 35 pass attempts (just 5.5 yards per attempt), and he added a touchdown, an interception, and a fumble.
Coming off a fantastic preseason in which Mason Rudolph averaged 8.6 yards per attempt with a 4 to 1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 113.3 passer rating, we had extremely high hopes that he might be the quarterback who eventually replaces Ben Roethlisberger. However, the more Rudolph plays, the more we start to see his limitations.
The former Oklahoma State product may have an NFL frame, but his arm talent isn’t on par with most of the other great quarterbacks in the league. While Rudolph can throw a pretty ball down the field, he lacks elite arm strength, ball placement, and velocity. This was on display against the Colts as the ball came out late and often behind his intended receiver (e.g., James Washington, one-handed catch).
There are some things about Rudolph that I love. He stands in the pocket with pressure barreling down, and he’s a confident passer who isn’t afraid to deliver the ball in tight windows. However, Rudolph is looking more and more like a career backup with each passing week.
The Steelers traded away quarterback Josh Dobbs just before Roethlisberger landed on IR. After seeing how Rudolph has struggled, I’m confident the Steelers would like to have Dobbs back as an insurance policy.
It’s important to remember that Mason Rudolph is still young, and he could certainly turn things around. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner probably didn’t do him any favors by calling such a conservative game. However, Rudolph’s spotty play as of late has given us plenty of cause for concern about the future of the Steelers.