For as much as some of us as fans might go after a player for struggling on the field and not performing up to the standard, I do hope that the majority are also able to step back and understand that we are still talking about real people—even if they do make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
That’s the annual income bracket into which Mason Rudolph has fallen since being drafted in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers last year. But he also falls in the category of backup quarterback, at least for this week, and possibly for the foreseeable future, after he was benched in the second half on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
While he hasn’t always begun his journey at each level of the game as a starter, he has always ended up there. This is the first time that his trajectory has gone in the opposite direction, and understandably, that is surely tough for him to handle.
But he’s said all the right things since then, to his credit, taken a team-first attitude, and has dedicated his focus, outside of his own preparation, of course, to helping Devlin Hodges get ready to face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. After all, if he wins, the Steelers win, and by extension, Rudolph.
Rudolph spoke to reporters yesterday, and was generous with his time and his comments on Thanksgiving. On his benching, he said, “you handle it with your attitude”, via Will Graves of the Associated Press. “With a team-first attitude”.
That’s an attitude that’s a lot easier to have and to maintain when you come in as the number three guy and are sitting on the bench. Rudolph talked last season about how Mike Tomlin helped him stay engaged and involved by remaining open to the young quarterback’s input.
Now, however, he has gone from injury-replacement starter to performance-replaced backup, and that’s a tough pill to swallow. Especially the five interceptions that he has thrown over the past six quarters. And the fact that he won’t have a shot at avenging his ugly loss against the Browns. But he knows that’s not the priority.
“I can only control how I react and how hard I prepare, knowing that I am one play away”, he said. On Hodges, he said, “you support him, knowing that, hey, this is a crazy game and you have to be ready when your number is called. And I will be ready, for sure”.
Truth by told, we don’t know what’s going to happen on Sunday. We don’t know how Hodges is going to look. If he struggles a lot, the way Rudolph had, it’s entirely possible he gets pulled if Tomlin makes the decision that it could be the difference between a win and a loss.