The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Did the offense under Mason Rudolph show enough to be encouraged about growth over the course of the season?
Second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph now has six quarters of play, and the offense has produced 17 points. Only 20 came over the past four quarters, including six from drives in which the offense was given the ball inside of field goal range. The other 14 points were gathered on a pair of long touchdown passes.
The biggest issue was the inability to sustain drives, which has been a problem all season. The Steelers spend a lot of time during the offseason working on situational football, and last year it checked out. They were the best team in the red zone and among the best on third down. Not so much in the latter this year so far.
While there were plenty of warts to go around, certainly not limited to Rudolph, we know that it’s going to get better. This was his first full game, starting on the road, against a good team. He did make some plays, and even some of his skill position players made some for him. And we know the offensive line is typically better than what they showed yesterday.
Things have the potential to get better. Will it get better though, and by how much? Not even necessarily to compete within the division—though there are only three wins combined in the AFC North right now—but just to be competitive and maybe approach .500.