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: Will Mason Rudolph win the first start of his career?
It wasn’t drawn up this way. Eventually, the idea was for Mason Rudolph to be the starter. Just not while Ben Roethlisberger was still under contract. However we got here, however, it’s time for the second-year man to make his staring debut.
The Steelers drafted the Oklahoma State product last year because they believed he has what it takes to be a starter, and they knew—or at least thought—they would have time to develop him. He did sit for all of his rookie season, but now he’s set to start Week Three of his second year in the league.
Rudolph did look good making his NFL debut last week. Minus a drop that led to an interception, he went 12-for-18 for 112 yards and two touchdowns, helping the offense score 16 points (due to a missed two-point conversion attempt) over the span of five drives.
Now he’s had a full week of preparation and planning under his belt. While the offensive scheme remained presumably unchanged, nuances will be adjusted to accommodate him based on his preferences. They’ll probably run the ball more, as well, and make better and more frequent use of the play-action pass.
But ultimately, winning is probably going to come down to him being able to make plays with his arm. The San Francisco 49ers are a pretty good team, and we haven’t really seen signs from this defense that they are capable of winning many games without the offensive support they have been used to from Roethlisberger.