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One Step To Take: QB Mason Rudolph

Bringing back a series I had a lot of fun exploring the last several offseasons. Every player wants to improve, to elevate his game in all areas from one season to the next. Understanding that, we’re going to isolate just one area, one faction of a player’s game. The biggest area for improvement.

Mason Rudolph: Make A Profit Each Snap

After a quiet rookie season where Rudolph predictably settled in as the #3, the spotlight will be on him heading into Year Two. Though he’ll be expected to win the backup job and beat out Josh Dobbs, it won’t be guaranteed. It’ll need to be earned. So how does he do that?

Stop turning the ball over. Stop taking sacks. It’s sorta as simple as that.

While Rudolph showed poise and command of the huddle for a rookie, he was plagued by typical rookie woes. Nine total interceptions – eight during camp, one more in the preseason – a low completion percentage (57% camp, 54% preseason games) and seven sacks in the games.

It doesn’t matter what kind of arm you have or the plays you’re capable of making. Turn it over that much and the coaches won’t ever trust you.

Best example came against Green Bay. First throw of the game. He’s too late on the out route to Darrius Heyward-Bey and the corner easily jumps it, returning it the other way for six. Have to be a better rhythm passer and get the ball out on time. Can get away with this in college. Not the NFL.

Other times he just held onto the ball too long. Yes, some of the sacks taken weren’t his fault. Breakdowns by backups who didn’t make the team. But this is 1st and 10. Find the outlet, hit the checkdown. Know he’s trying to make a play late in the half but you don’t want to take a sack and risk an end of half turnover.

Ball security was another issue. Fumbled the ball on two of the sacks he took last tear. All told, he turned the ball over 11 times in camp and the preseason. Want to see that number cut in half and maybe only once during the games this time around.

Make the smart play, not the hero play, and he’ll show the progression that can earn him the backup gig. That’s the goal.

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