The Steelers are officially playoff-bound, and while fans are excited to have snuck in as they did, there is now the question of what the team should do at quarterback. Mason Rudolph took over for the past three weeks and has been a breath of fresh air for this offense. Fans seem to be debating, but there isn’t a question here: Rudolph should be the guy for this playoff run.
The other option is Kenny Pickett. The Steelers would have liked their former first-round pick to take some steps forward this year, but that never happened. For most of the season, this team was handcuffed by Pickett. Outside of the occasional late-game heroics, this team was failing to constantly produce with Pickett at the helm.
While the Steelers are adamant that starters won’t lose their spots because of injury, that has become a less prevalent talking point for this team. Quarterback is also the most important position, so it would be foolish to make a switch when this offense is finally clicking.
Why would the Steelers change quarterbacks?
At this point, how can you want Pickett back as the starter for the playoffs? The argument has quickly surfaced that Rudolph came back to earth this week against the Ravens. He wasn’t the same gunslinger as he was in previous weeks with only 152 passing yards. The win over the Ravens was all on the ground, so apparently it's time to move on from Rudolph.
While Rudolph didn’t play a great game, it also wasn’t ideal conditions to throw the ball. It was a downpour all game and windy, making passing the ball more difficult. The run game was also working for almost the entire game, so why force the pass? Rudolph did just enough and only missed two passes all day.
He struggled with holding the ball too long which led to a few fumbles. He needs to get the ball out quicker, but the fumbles could be attributed to the weather as well. It wasn’t a great performance, but it certainly wasn’t a horrible one.
What Rudolph has done is reinvigorate this offense over the past few weeks. He isn’t suddenly an elite player, but he is running this offense as it was designed. He makes safe passes, can throw deep, and works the pocket well. Compare that to Pickett, who hasn’t done any of that consistently.
No, Rudolph isn’t a cure-all for this offense, but he is doing a better job than Pickett has. Had he not stepped in, I find it hard to believe that the Steelers are in the playoffs right now. Even if it was close, Rudolph deserves the opportunity to lead this team in the playoffs after successfully getting them there. It would be entirely wrong to go back to Pickett at this point unless Rudolph falters.