I think it’s safe to say that the majority consensus is Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph is still a bit of a long way off from being a franchise player. Drafted in the third round but viewed as having first-round talent, the team added him not because he could play now, but that he might be able to in a couple of years.
In the near-term, however, the goal is to get him in a meaningful role as soon as possible, which generally means being the backup quarterback. But if he continues to do what he has been doing, that’s not going to happen this year, either. And by that I mean putting the football on the ground, or in opponents’ hands.
Through two games, Rudolph has dropped back to pass 31 times. 24 of them have resulted in him throwing the football, and he has completed half of them. One was completed to the other team, going the other way for a touchdown, but other incomplete passes could have been intercepted as well.
Of the other seven dropbacks, he scrambled twice and was sacked five times. He has fumbled the football three times, and he has been fortunate not to have lost any of them yet.
The very last thing that a backup can do is to turn the ball over. Rudolph has technically only turned it over once so far, but the opportunities for takeaways have been there, and that is a serious problem. According to Alex Kozora, he finished training camp with a growing ball security problem as well.
So if you want to know the single biggest reason that he is still far from even being the backup quarterback to Ben Roethlisberger, it’s because of that. It’s about ball security. And it’s about lacking the comfort to know when your internal clock is up, to know what throws you need to not force when you’re under pressure.
It’s one thing to have the occasional deep pass result in a turnover. He is a quarterback that likes to push the ball down the field, and that is just part of the territory sometimes. The Steelers’ starter does it, too, and sometimes it goes to the other team. You live with that.
But the easy, foolish turnovers need to be avoided. Telegraphing a pass into the flat with a zone defender stalking the receiver is a big no-no. Lacking pocket presence and a feel for the rush is a problem that can’t be present.
Until Rudolph improves in this area, it’s going to prevent him from dressing on Sundays. It’s that simple. That’s not the only thing, but it is a deal-breaker when you already have a trusted backup as the Steelers do.