On the football field, and off, there might be no closer relationship in the game than that which exists between the quarterback and his offensive linemen. The line is responsible, first and foremost, for protecting the quarterback, who places himself in a vulnerable position with his eyes down the field in an effort to make a play for the collective good of the offense.
It’s a relationship built upon trust, and without it, it’s hard to execute. The quarterback has to be able to trust that his linemen will give him the protection, and thus the time, the make the plays the offense needs to make. Less pragmatically important, the line has to trust that their quarterback is capable of making those plays.
But they also have to have a working relationship and familiarity with one another for more practical reasons. They have to know his cadences, his progressions, his tendencies. Does he roll out of the pocket a lot? Does he hold onto the ball?
These are just some of the reasons that we frequently see such a bond between the two position groups, and we’ve certainly seen that throughout Ben Roethlisberger’s career—frankly, even before he had a good line. But his bond with players like Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster go well beyond the field.
Now, though, it’s Mason Rudolph under center, and they don’t have a ton of on-field experience together, especially in-game. They’re building that now. But they already have a foundation, because there is a strong off-field relationship, as reflected in the comments the linemen have made about him.
“He’s fine. He’s a pro”, All-Pro right guard David DeCastro said after Sunday’s loss, from PennLive. “He held his composure and he gave us a chance. The second half was big and better but we were just not starting fast. Especially when the defense is playing that well, getting that many turnovers, we have to capitalize and control the game more”.
DeCastro was probably the most outspoken in his support of Rudolph the week before when he came in to play in the second half, but we’ve seen it up and down the line. Foster has also offered his thoughts on the young quarterback.
“The biggest thing that we take away from this thing”, he said after the loss, is the fact that “he can be a guy who makes a play”. Despite his first-half struggles, he connected on two long touchdowns in the second.
What they have to do next as a group, Foster told the paper, is that they’ve got to get familiar with one another and how they work. The good news, and perhaps the bad as well, is that they have 13 more games to build that relationship before this season is in the books—and Rudolph heads back to the bench.