2019 South Side Questions: Who Will Start On Sunday?

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: Who will start at quarterback next week? Who should start?

This should be interesting. Or, you know, a landslide.

It has not been a good couple of weeks for Mason Rudolph. Just after helping the Steelers get over .500 and into position for a playoff spot, he puts together an awful game with four interceptions, then loses his cool after an unnecessary late hit at the end of the game, ultimately resulting in him getting hit in the head with his own helmet.

After being the victim of assault, he spends the week fielding accusations that everything was actually his fault, and then ultimately has the racial slur bomb dropped on him in the middle of the week as he looks to prepare to rebound from what was the worst professional outing of his career.

And in that next showing, he continues to struggle, gets pulled, and sees his backup lead a comeback, throwing his starting role into question. Devlin Hodges has an excellent chance of starting against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head Coach Mike Tomlin toyed with the media as to what his plans are, and whether or not he already knows.

Will he? Should he? Does Hodges give the Steelers a better chance of winning games down the stretch? I know it’s going to be a landslide in favor of Hodges for the ‘should’ column. I’m just curious to see if anybody will actually support Rudolph.

Should and will are different questions, however. Given the circumstances of the week, Tomlin may have been thinking as much about protecting Rudolph from his own struggles as anything else, or at least secondarily to winning. In this case, he may let practice performance be his guide.

One thing I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt: Hodges will be getting more first-team reps this week.

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