Earlier this week, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch gave his thoughts on young quarterback Mason Rudolph at the halfway pout of the 2019 regular season. On Thursday, former Steelers head coach and current CBS Sports NFL analyst Bill Cowher appeared on 93.7 The Fan and proceeded to share his thoughts not only on Rudolph, but the team’s offense as well as they prepare to start the second half of their regular season.
First, Cowher was asked if fans of the Steelers likely have a skewed view of what a young Pittsburgh quarterback is like because of how good Ben Roethlisberger was during his 2004 rookie season.
“Yeah, I mean, Ben would be a hard guy to follow, right?” Cowher responded. “And I think what Mason has done, I give a lot of credit to Mike Tomlin and Randy Fichtner, I think what they’ve done with this offense is really play to some of his strengths. And I really like what they’ve done and each week it’s been a little bit different package that they have and I think they’ve been very resourceful in how they’ve gone about it. I think they’ve been a little bit unconventional at times.”
Cowher went on to say that the Steelers offense in its current state with Rudolph at quarterback reminds him some of a team he had in the first few seasons that he was the head coach in Pittsburgh.
“And I was looking the other day, I said they look like the 1994 Steelers with Neil O’Donnell,” Cowher said. “They had two tight ends, a fullback in there was Roosevelt Nix and they’re running the football. I said I loved it. And they’re throwing the ball down the field down the sideline with a couple of play action gos.”
Cowher was later asked if he believes it takes a certain kind of an offensive coordinator to handle a young quarterback.
“Well, I mean, I think in coaching it’s about teaching, it’s about understanding,” Cowher said. “And when you talk about a good teacher, I think one of the first qualities you think about with a good coach is you understand who your student is, you understand what makes them tick. Not every student is the same. And so, I think with Randy, he’s trying to get a feel for Mason, what he’s comfortable with, what they would like to be able to do. And that continues to have experiences week in and week out. So, you learn about each other as you go through this process.”
Cowher also said Thursday that he really likes where the Steelers are as a football team right and especially after suffering a crucial loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5 that dropped them to 1-4 on the season and in the process losing Rudolph to a concussion.
“Listen, right now it’s a football team that, again, you sat there and three weeks ago it became a very defining moment where you are,” Cowher said. “You lose to the Baltimore Ravens and a lot of things are looking bad. But since that time, you had three straight wins and you start to build a little bit of a swagger and they have created a little bit of an identity for yourself.”
Cowher made sure to credit the Steelers coaching staff for where the team currently sits entering the second half of their regular season more than once during his Thursday interview and made it sound like he expects the team to win several more of their final eight games.
“And as I said, I really like what this team has kind of evolved into and they’ve been hardened,” Cowher said. “They’ve had to kind of change an identity in the midst of where they were from the beginning of the season. But that’s what good coaches do, and I give a lot of credit again to what they’ve done with his team. And it goes back to being that right now it’s a defensive football team with an offense that compliments them. And I think you can win a lot of football games that way and I think you’re seeing it happen.”
One can only hope that Rudolph-led offense and the Steelers defense can somehow find a way to duplicate what Cowher’s 1994 team did and that’s make the playoffs. That 1994 Cowher-coached Steelers team didn’t have a great point-producing offense with Neil O’Donnell at quarterback and Ron Erhardt at offensive coordinator. However, what that 1994 team did have was a great defense and one that registered 55 sacks and 31 total takeaways during the regular season.
While that 1994 Steelers offense wasn’t great, that unit only turned the football over 17 times all season. Bad offense and all, that 1994 Steelers team was one fourth down and 3 play away from making it to the Super Bowl that season.