Have Faith in Mason Rudolph
Against the Dolphins in Week Eight, Mason Rudolph started about as slowly as possible. Playing the worst team in the NFL, Rudolph came out and immediately fired an interception and looked completely lost out on the field. Between missing easy throws and just plain terrible decision-making, at one point, it looked like we might see another appearance from folk-hero/backup quarterback Devlin Hodges. But then, as soon as things started to look worse than ever, Rudolph settled in and ended up playing an effective game. Whether he was simply shaking off the rust from not having played since Week Five because of a concussion or merely the young-quarterback jitters, Rudolph struggled mightily, but the Steelers stuck by him, and he responded.
The next step, of course, is to put even more trust in Rudolph and allow him to operate a full gameplan for once. Offensive Coordinator Randy Fichtner has been hesitant to open things up in the passing game, often calling for short dump-offs and screens. In college, Rudolph thrived when throwing deep, yet the Steelers haven’t allowed him to take those shots down the field. Week Eight showed us that he could handle the pressure of overcoming adversity in a prime-time setting. Against a much-better team this week, the Steelers need to allow their young signal-caller to continue developing, and it starts with the deep ball.
We are never going to know what Rudolph is capable of if Fichtner continues to hide him in this offense. In Week Nine, it’s time to show some faith in the second-year man.