For a game in which Ben Roethlisberger did not play, Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin came away from the team’s first preseason game pleased with the performances of the three men who helmed the quarterback position for his team in a 30-28 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He spoke to reporters yesterday morning for the first time since the immediate aftermath of that victory, after they had gotten a greater opportunity to review and process the play on the field, and he reiterated his initial post-game assessment of the performance of his three young quarterbacks.
“I thought, generally, the quarterback play was positive [for] all three guys”, he said. “I thought they made a good accounting of themselves in-stadium. Handled some of the game, situational things, above the line”.
Third-year pro Joshua Dobbs, who was the backup quarterback last season, started the game and played 21 snaps. Though he did not get into the end zone, he was able to move the offense and won in some situational football. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges followed with 16 and 26 snaps, respectively, and combined for three touchdown passes.
They ‘did a great job communicating, even executing in some situational-ball scenarios relatively well”, Tomlin continued. “We got growth, obviously, in a lot of areas. I thought we did some good things. I thought the general hustle and finish was above the line, largely, in all three phases”.
Rudolph completed five of eight passes for 85 yards, while Rudolph went five for eight for 91 yards and two touchdown passes. Hodges finished out most of the second half, completing eight of 14 passes for 79 yards and one touchdown. He also gained a 27-yard defensive pass interference penalty.
They were generally successful on third down, converting six of 12 opportunities, and that included some very unfavorable circumstances, especially for Dobbs, who connected with James Washington for 22 yards on third and 22. He also scrambled twice for third-down conversions.
All three of the touchdown passes thrown between Rudolph and Hodges also came in situational football, inside the red zone. Rudolph threw a back-shoulder fade to Washington for an eight-yard score before connecting with rookie tight end Zach Gentry for a three-yard touchdown, showing improvisational ability. Hodges’ eight-yard connection with Tevin Jones also showed patience and processing ability.
While it was a good first showing for the group, collectively, I think the team still wants to see all three of them continue to take additional steps forward, beginning on Saturday in their next preseason game. My guess is that Rudolph will start, with Dobbs following. Whether or not Hodges gets into the game remains to be seen, however.