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, and now Devlin Hodges? 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: Is Mason Rudolph back in the discussion at quarterback for the Steelers after Devlin Hodges’ ugly night?
Mason Rudolph, a second-year guy who had generally been doing just enough to not lose, finally lost against the Cleveland Browns on the road with poor pass protection while throwing four interceptions. He was pulled after struggling a week later into the second half.
Hodges threw a pass that James Washington took most of the 79 yards for a go-ahead touchdown on his first drive in, and that was all she wrote. Hodges would start the next two games and be the quarterback of record for the victories, though the offense hasn’t actually put up more than 20 points in any games he’s started or been responsible for. In the two starts in which the Steelers have posted more than 20 points, the difference came from touchdowns on defense and special teams.
Hodges really hurt the Steelers last night, at home, in a critical game against the Buffalo Bills, not just with his four interceptions, but with a series of bad decisions, including passing up numerous open receivers and taking sacks that were entirely avoidable.
It’s been several weeks since Rudolph has played, and Mike Tomlin has been complimentary of how the second-year quarterback has handled the benching. Is it possible that the pendulum swings back to him? The head coach made it clear that Hodges was afforded the opportunity to play because he was the quarterback who’s ‘not killing us’.
Now he has, and the Steelers are in must-win mode. Will Tomlin decide to go with whichever quarterback performs better on the practice field this week, or will he continue to stick with Hodges and trust that he will bounce back from this, with two road games coming up to make it into the postseason?