If the Pittsburgh Steelers made the decision to keep Landry Jones on the roster, then the answer of who the team’s backup quarterback was going to be this season would have already been answered. He was only going to remain on the team if he was the only quarterback the coaches felt was qualified to handle the job this season.
Now that they have chosen to move on from Jones, the backup quarterback position is technically an unanswered question, at least for the outside observers, until we hear from Head Coach Mike Tomlin about what their plans are.
Now, I’m willing to bet that the Steelers are going to move forward, at least for the time being, with second-year quarterback Joshua Dobbs as the gameday active player behind Ben Roethlisberger. It would be asking quite a lot to expect a rookie to handle that assignment, and frankly, Mason Rudolph didn’t blow the doors off of the preseason.
But, technically, we don’t know that to be the case. In fact, when General Manager Kevin Colbert addressed the backup quarterback situation two days ago, he addressed Dobbs and Rudolph together, saying that they “have shown signs that maybe they can be [the backup] as well, and that’s really a good thing”.
So do the Steelers believe that Rudolph can be the backup right now? Is it a role that they believe it’s important to get Rudolph into sooner rather than later? This is something that Alex Kozora talked about during the offseason. Basically, the sooner Rudolph gets settled into that number two role, the better off he’ll be in terms of his development.
After all, the number two quarterback already gets relatively few reps in practice, even if he may get more than average in Pittsburgh because Roethlisberger is a veteran who takes maintenance days or sessions off during a typical work week. The number three quarterback will get virtually no live reps some weeks.
Even if Dobbs opens the season as the backup quarterback, it’s not guaranteed that he will hold off Rudolph for the entire season. Could we actually see a ‘two dogs, one bone’ scenario develop between the two?
Personally, I don’t think that’s such a great idea. They are both young quarterbacks, and whoever the backup is will need as many reps as he can possibly get, so it’s going to be hard to try to divide those opportunities between the two in order to allow for a competition.
Still, ultimately, until we actually receive an answer, the backup quarterback position is technically open for debate right now. I think Dobbs deserves to open the season as the #2, and I would be surprised if he’s not. But we don’t know that will be the case for sure.