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: Mason Rudolph should start the first preseason game for the Steelers.
Explanation: The question is not whether or not Mason Rudolph will be the starter for the first preseason game, but rather whether or not he should. Obviously Ben Roethlisberger is not going to participate, so the other option would be Joshua Dobbs (or Devlin Hodges, if you want to be wrong).
The Steelers clearly identified Rudolph last year as a player who has the potential to be the next quarterback of the team. They didn’t have to draft him. They did so because they thought he presented great value. They already had Dobbs and Landry Jones was already established as their backup.
So of course they should throw him out there at the first opportunity, against the highest level of competition, and see how he has progressed from last offseason. He started out having a good camp before trailing off, but seemed to pick things up a bit yesterday. He has been pushing the ball down the field more and completing more balls, though the interceptions have started to come lately. Does this show up?
Another reason to give him the first look is because he’s not as mobile as Dobbs, who is more capable of resetting the pocket with his athleticism if need be. To get the best look at Rudolph, he needs to be standing, which means working with the starting line.
While granted the fact that the number two quarterback position has been declared by Randy Fichtner a wide open competition, the fact is that Dobbs is the incumbent. He was the backup last year, and nothing has necessarily changed since then, so it would be an unnecessary knock against him to make him go second right out of the gate.
The fact that he has been on an upward trajectory after a sluggish start to training camp is also something that I want to see built upon. He was on fire in the preseason finale last year, by far the best performance of his professional career, so can he pick up where he left off?