Mason Rudolph May Not Be a Long-Term Answer
When the Steelers lost Ben Roethlisberger early in the season, it put second-year man Mason Rudolph in a tough position. Unexpectedly taking over as a starting quarterback is never an easy task, but this was a particularly tricky situation considering the guy Rudolph replaced is a franchise legend, and this is a franchise that generally has very high expectations for success. That said, the team had belief in their young quarterback, expressing confidence that he is the future of the position. After watching him play so far; however, it may be time to reassess that stance.
Rudolph hasn’t necessarily been bad, but that’s a far cry from saying he’s been good. Offensive Coordinator Randy Fichtner’s horrific play-calling (more on that later) hasn’t helped matters, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the player to execute, and Rudolph has been hit-or-miss in that area. The most significant area of concern is his hesitancy to throw downfield. Despite his college success coming almost exclusively through the deep ball, Rudolph has become a conservative, check-down passer. It’s hard for offenses to thrive when only throwing the ball less than five yards down the field, and unfortunately, that’s all Rudolph seems comfortable doing.
It’s too early to give up on Mason Rudolph completely, but significant improvement is needed if he hopes to remain a viable long-term option. Unless he starts to trust his arm and make explosive plays, Rudolph may be better suited as a backup and not “the guy” for Pittsburgh moving forward. It’s not time to give up just yet, but with continued offensive struggles, Rudolph’s leash may start getting even shorter.