Today’s game will mark the second opportunity for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph to go up against another one of the quarterbacks who were drafted in the same class as him a year ago. Five were taken in the first round, and he will be facing four of them this year (Josh Rosen would have been the fifth, but he was benched prior to the Steelers playing him).
His first shot came against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, and he was doing well in that game, even coming up with a huge third-down conversion on the play on which Earl Thomas hit him in the head and gave him a concussion. They ended up losing that game in overtime without him.
Now he gets to face the first-overall pick, Baker Mayfield, who frankly isn’t having a season anything like that which he had a year ago. The Browns are just 3-6 on the season, and he has the second-most interceptions in the league with 12. He talked about Rudolph ahead of the game.
“I have been around Mason for a while just in college playing him, in-state rivalry”, he said. “Mason is a great guy. He is playing well, taking care of the ball, putting them in a good position to win. Obviously, they have rolled off four straight right now so he is doing his job”.
On the season, Rudolph has completed 131 of 203 pass attempts, about 65 percent, for 1330 yards with 11 touchdown passes to four interceptions. Two of the interceptions that he has thrown were a direct result of dropped passes by Donte Moncrief (in Week Two) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (in Week Nine).
“I think he does an excellent job of protecting the football, first and foremost”, Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens added of Rudolph. He has fumbled three times this year, though hasn’t lost any of them.
“I think as a quarterback goes along you have to or you become one-dimensional”, he said about the Steelers expanding what they ask Rudolph to do as the season progresses. “I do not think that any team wants to do that. Pittsburgh is well coached, and they understand the progression of a quarterback. They have done a good job with him. He is playing really at a high level right now – really good”.
In recent weeks, the Steelers have been enabling him to push the ball down the field more than he had before the bye week, though Rudolph himself has said that this is more about what the defenses are allowing.
Rudolph is 0-1 against his former draft classmates so far. Can he even up that record tonight against Mayfield and keep the Steelers above .500? It would mark his first win on the road, though the only game he has started so far away from Heinz Field was his first against the San Francisco 49ers. Five of their last six games have been at home. Five of their last seven are away.