Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: QB Mason Rudolph
Stock Value: Down
It’s stating the obvious here, but Mason Rudolph had the worst game of his career against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. How he response from that will be very telling, though it won’t be a one-game affair, especially given that their next opponent has not won a game this season.
While it can be argued that Rudolph’s receivers had issues making or finishing plays for him, one can’t ignore the fact that he also threw four interceptions that were all on him. He only had four interceptions in total on the season entering the game, and two of those interceptions came off of dropped passes.
It’s hard to really get a read on it, but one might be inclined to hold the believe that Rudolph got rattled by his own struggles in the game, began to press, and started making increasingly costly errors. His mental makeup has been touted as arguably his greatest quality, so especially if this was the case, it’s imperative that he show he can put it all behind him.
And it can’t go without comment that he certainly could have handled himself at the end of the game. There is and can never be any justifying of what Myles Garrett did, but there was also no reason for him to try to take his helmet off after he was illegally, yet not violently, tackled. To go after him after that, without a helmet, was also not his greatest decision, and I’m sure he’s been instructed in what and what not to do in the future. You never want your quarterback especially escalating on-field conflicts, for a number of reasons.
So much about this game, though, was bad for Rudolph. He was slow in his reads. He missed some altogether, even on fourth and two, resulting in a turnover on downs. He remains gun shy, unwilling to get the ball out quickly, and at times narrowing the window into which he has to throw.
There is so much more for the young quarterback to build on, but this wasn’t it. This is a game you simply move on from. He is getting better in using the intermediate part of the field, but now he has to make better decisions, and better throws, in that area.