The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph should be splitting second-team reps.
Explanation: The Steelers have two young players at the quarterback position behind Ben Roethlisberger, both of whom are still developing. Dobbs served as the backup last year as a second-year player but the team drafted Rudolph last year with the belief that he could be something more.
It the idea is to see if Rudolph can be the second-best quarterback on the roster this year, and the one most capable of serving as Roethlisberger’s backup both for in-game and outside-of-game contexts, then it would seem to be foolish not to allow him to split the second-team reps with Dobbs this offseason.
Now, you’re not going to just go out and flip their roles. Dobbs was the backup last season and Rudolph still has to earn that. The possibility entirely exists that Dobbs will prove to be the better quarterback of the two in both the near term and the short term.
But the best way to find out is to try to make the playing field between them about as even as possible, and that starts with providing equal opportunities of equal quality.
Rudolph will get his reps here and there, but to get anything more than the third-string share is, point blank, something to be earned. That’s how it works. You show what you’re capable of in the settings you’re provided, and if you rise above those settings, you get ‘promoted’ to the next tier.
The reality is that with Roethlisberger at the top of the depth chart—somebody who is going to be taking maintenance days off—both Dobbs and Rudolph will have their opportunities to get higher-quality reps than they might on another team with a younger starter.
Dobbs is a young player who is continuing to develop his game. It would be a disservice to him to artificially take reps away from him that he could use to continue to grow for the sake of a player who is lower than him on the depth chart. A handful of reps here and there, but splitting reps, unless earned, is out of bounds.