If you’re searching for a dose of optimism this weekend as the Pittsburgh Steelers travel west to face the 2-0 San Francisco 49ers, sans Ben Roethlisberger and facing a 2-0 team who has George Kittle at their disposal, look not further than former Steelers backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
Now with Pro Football Focus, Gradkowski appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd to talk about where the Steelers go from here now that they have to play the rest of the season with second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph under center.
Rudolph just made his debut on Sunday, playing all of the second half, and led the offense to 17 points over five drives, even if one of those drives started from the Seattle Seahawks’ three-yard line. After throwing incompletions on his first three attempts (two of which may have been dropped), he completed 12 of 16 passes after that for 112 yards and two scores.
“Mason Rudolph, he might not have the biggest hands for being a big guy, and playing in that weather in Pittsburgh and Cleveland that you’re gonna face. I worry about that a little bit”, Gradkowski acknowledged. “But I tell you what, he has the grit, he has the determination. He wants to get the job done, and he’s gonna execute your offense. I think the Steelers need that right now”.
That’s exactly what Rudolph told reporters when he spoke on Thursday. When asked about the fact that Roethlisberger was given so much leeway, he actively said that he wants the gameplan and the calls to be in offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner’s hands.
“The biggest thing for Mason Rudolph, he has to get in that huddle, he has to make the guys around him believe he will give them an opportunity”, Gradkowski went on. That “he gives them a chance to win week in and week out. The Steelers are still going all-in, trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick. They’re making a point that, listen, our season’s not done yet, we’re still gonna go after this thing. And I tell you what, I see Rudolph leading that sleigh into January for the Pittsburgh Steelers”.
That’s right, he just predicted that the Steelers will return to the postseason with Rudolph under center. Albeit still early in the schedule, that is a steep hill to climb already two games back in the AFC North. Their regular season finale is against the Baltimore Ravens on the 29th of December. Let’s hope that’s a significant game with something to play for. Because otherwise we’ll probably already be working on draft coverage.
— Bruce Gradkowski (@bgradkowski5) September 19, 2019