Losing a veteran franchise quarterback is a gutpunch to just about anybody’s season, and the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly appear to be no exception in 2019, now staring at a 1-4 record after Ben Roethlisberger only made it through the first six quarters of the season.
While most of their losses have been close and competitive, they still ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, and at the end of the day, that is ultimately the only thing that matters. When you’re losing games, you obviously want to turn things around and start winning, but you also have to fall back on both your teammates and simply your love for the game.
Sometimes it helps when the guys who are filling in for the major players whose absences are contributing to the losses are young players with a lot of energy and passion, something that can be infectious, especially to some of the older veterans.
The offense has gotten that this year, with Maurkice Pouncey inducting two new quarterbacks into the NFL officially, the first snaps of the careers of first Mason Rudolph and then Devlin Hodges coming from the 10th-year veteran center.
While he didn’t work a lot with Hodges in particular, who in the offseason was the number four quarterback, he did get work in with Rudolph, who was competing with Joshua Dobbs to serve as the backup this year. He was asked in the locker room yesterday about how it’s different to work with these younger players.
“It’s fun, man. When guys are out there, especially in the predicament we’re in, man, you’ve got to make everything fun”, he said. “You’ve got to make sure everyone out there is locked in and still wanting to play hard. That’s where we’re at right now, and we appreciate the guys who have their hands in the pile”.
It does help that these young quarterbacks in Rudolph and Hodges have already earned the respect of the veteran players, which has allowed them to be accepted in the locker room and in the huddle as individuals, free to be themselves.
As a result, their energy and enthusiasm to get their careers started is something that the more experienced players have been able to experience vicariously all over again. JuJu Smith-Schuster had a similar affect when he came into the offense a couple of years ago.
It’s a lot more complicated when the new piece is at the quarterback position, especially when the player he’s replacing is one of the caliber of Roethlisberger, but this is a circumstance that has been forced upon them, so all they can do is adapt.