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: By the end of this season, where will Mason Rudolph rank relative to the other quarterbacks who were drafted in 2018?
Inspired by Sam Darnold’s terrible performance last night, I couldn’t help thinking about this question. The 2018 NFL Draft was viewed as one of the beset in recent years in quarterback talent, but at least through the first season and a half, not a lot of those quarterbacks are looking so great.
Baker Mayfield had his moments during his rookie season, even breaking the rookie record for touchdown passes thrown. This year, he’s going for the single-season interception record it seems, already with 11 through six games (the record, by the way, is George Blanda’s 42 back in 1962, followed by Vinny Testaverde’s 35 in 1988, which is the most in the Super Bowl era).
Josh Rosen is already on his second team, and I’ve frankly lost count of the number of times he has been benched. The Steelers were supposed to be preparing to face him on Monday night, but the Dolphins have opted for Ryan Fitzpatrick instead.
Darnold has looked great at times. Then he’s looked like…well, what he looked like last night. Josh Allen has surprisingly been the most consistent of that top 10 group, but Lamar Jackson has by far had the most success, now with an 11-3 record as a starter and coming around as a passer while setting an impressive pace with his legs.
Rudolph has been throwing touchdown passes while he’s played, but he obviously has a lot of work to do still, and he still has the training wheels on as far as what the team is allowing him to do, and what he is allowing himself to do. Each game is an expansion of the data set from which to judge, though, so we’ll learn more Monday night.