While his future is not the immediate for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the organization knows that 2019 is a big year for Mason Rudolph, the quarterback that they selected in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Rudolph knows this just as well.
As you know by now, the Steelers made the decision to draft him there even though they already had three quarterbacks that they were comfortable with—including Joshua Dobbs, selected in the fourth round the year before—because they believe he has starting potential.
As a rookie, however, he spent the season on the bench as the team’s number three quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and Dobbs, who had unseated Landry Jones as the team’s backup. One would think that if a quarterback is capable of being a starter, then he should at least be capable of being a backup by his second year. So that is the task before him this offseason.
“I need to do a lot”, he told the team’s website about his plans. “I need to keep our offense fresh in my mind this offseason. The last thing you want to do is not revisit stuff and look back at Week 2 and say what did we call here, what was effective, what could we have called better, what worked”.
He said that even though it wasn’t himself on the field, he intends “to do a self-scout evaluation of each game”, going over the Steelers’ offensive tape through the 2018 season. “Go back and watch it again and stay in the playbook”.
But the playbook, and the mental aspect, is only part of the equation, and frankly it’s the less pressing urgency when it comes to a third-string quarterback’s growth, because that is what he has total access to during the year. What he doesn’t have is the on-field work, because there are few enough reps to go around in practice. And so he wants to make sure he is as prepared for that as he can be.
I already wrote yesterday about how he talked about working with a quarterbacks coach, but he has also been prepping his teammates. “I keep hitting up the receivers and the guys you are going to spend time with in OTAs and making sure they are constantly trying to better themselves and they are learning,” he said.
“Now that I have almost as full year under my belt I have the relationships”, Rudolph added. “It’s easy to get on the phone with a guy and review something or get in person with them and kind of talk through some specific routes”.
James Washington, his teammate at Oklahoma State, already said that he planned on calling up his quarterback and working together this offseason. I’m not sure about JuJu Smith-Schuster, but I’m sure Ryan Switzer, perhaps Eli Rogers, and the wide receivers from the practice squad would be willing to get some actual on-field work in as well.