The Pittsburgh Steelers believe that they have a couple of capable backup quarterbacks on their roster—or at least they believe they are in the process of discovering whether or not that is the case. While Joshua Dobbs was the backup in 2018, Randy Fichtner acknowledged that his lone extended opportunity to play left much to be desired.
This year, he has renewed his competition with Mason Rudolph, last year’s third-round pick, who served as the number three quarterback during his rookie season. Rudolph got off to a better start to training camp, but as I talked about earlier today, has trailed off in recent weeks and needs to start picking things back up in the first preseason game.
He’s not judging his experience and comfort level on unofficial stat lines, however. During an interview broadcast over The Fan yesterday, he talked about the difference in his second year. “I’m having so much more fun. It’s coming so much more naturally to me”, he said. “The game’s slowed down, and I’m just ready to play a different set of uniforms than our own guys, get out there and have fun and let it rip”.
Whether he gets the first crack at the other uniforms or the second, following Dobbs, remains to be seen, though one would guess that the incumbent backup will be given the opportunity to start the first preseason game.
Still, Rudolph plans to be breathing down Dobbs’ neck for that backup job, and he talked about the need to be consistent. Still, as Dobbs did earlier this year, he sees this as less a competition between two individuals and more an individual competition from within.
“I’m competing against myself. When I look back at the competition I’ve had in high school, college, and here, it’s like, yeah, there’s always gonna be somebody else on the roster that you’re competing with”, he said.
“And that helps you. That sharpens each other. But last year I was really competing with myself because I couldn’t get out of my own way. I didn’t have a total understanding. I wasn’t completely—I was hesitant at times and I wasn’t as aggressive throwing the ball as I should have been. That comes with the territory. So year two, I felt already 10 times better through the spring and through, what, 10 practices out here”.
It’s great to have that comfort level and sense of progress. But ultimately what is going to determine the fate of the competition is the results. Whoever shows up the best and gives the greatest impression of his capability of being Ben Roethlisberger’s backup will get the clipboard and be one snap away from trying to keep the Steelers’ playoff hopes afloat.