Should Mason Rudolph start for the Steelers vs Panthers this week?

Mason Rudolph #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Mason Rudolph #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers are will travel to face the Carolina Panthers this week, but their QB situation is still up in the air. Should Mason Rudolph get the nod?

Mike Tomlin has a dilemma on his hands this week. Kenny Pickett suffered a concussion early against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 and was ruled out of the game. This was the second concussion for Pickett in just eight weeks, and it’s unknown whether the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback will clear concussion protocol in time to play against the Panthers.

While Tomlin did indicate that Pickett would be the starter this week against the Carolina Panthers if he gets the green light, this decision becomes a bit more difficult if he doesn’t get cleared until just before the game. Whether he wants to or not, Tomlin needs to have a backup plan.

In Pickett’s absence, Mitch Trubisky did a good job moving the chains but telegraphed throws and predetermined passes led to a whopping 3 interceptions on his 30 pass attempts, via ESPN stats. Being -3 in the turnover department no doubt cost Pittsburgh the game in what proved to be a 16-14 slugfest.

This week, Tomlin left the door open for Mason Rudolph to take the reigns if Pickett isn’t able to go. Would this be the right choice for the Steelers against the Panthers in Week 15?

Steelers should consider Mason Rudolph this week

Obviously, Kenny Pickett is the best option for the Steelers. Pittsburgh needs to see what they have in him moving forward and the rookie could really use the reps — even in what will prove to be a lost season. However, if he can’t go, there’s a real debate on our hands.

Of the two backups, Trubisky is the more talented player. He has a quality arm and plus mobility to extend the play. However, after what we’ve seen from him this year, I would almost suggest that the Steelers start Rudolph this week.

Trubisky is 1-3 as a starter so far in Pittsburgh (and that last loss against the Ravens doesn’t even count toward his record, as it was Pickett who started the game). Though Trubisky has shown the ability to move the football down the field on occasion, the results have not been favorable at all. In fact, the Steelers had one of the very worst offenses in the league before he was benched at halftime against the New York Jets in Week 4.

Now that the Steelers are almost essentially eliminated from the playoffs (they have just a 0.2 percent chance of making the tournament), playing Trubisky doesn’t do a whole lot for them. No matter how he plays down the stretch, Pickett is going to be the guy, and Trubisky should be released early in the offseason due to his $10.6 million cap hit next year, per Over the Cap.

While we have seen plenty of Mason Rudolph in action back in 2019, it would be interesting to see what he could do in this situation. If Tomlin gives him the start against the Panthers and he performs well, perhaps he could return as Pickett’s backup for a fraction of the money they gave Trubisky.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are a 5-8 football team with no hope of making the playoffs, and they’ve already seen horrendous play on the offensive side of the ball this year with Trubisky at the helm. What’s the worst that could happen if Mason Rudolph gets the start against the Panthers?