For the past two and a half games, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has actively chosen to go with rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges over Mason Rudolph, the quarterback he drooled over in the 2018 pre-draft and post-draft process.
Rudolph largely helped him make that decision by turning the ball over five times in a game and a half, of course, but since Hodges has been on the field, he has made the plays necessary to retain his position. After replacing Rudolph in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals, he authored a comeback, then he beat the Cleveland Browns. Now, he’s once again been chosen to start against the Arizona Cardinals.
Tomlin announced that decision on Tuesday officially, but he essentially said it after the last game already, so it was no secret. On The Mike Tomlin Show yesterday, Bob Pompeani asked him if Hodges’ tape affirmed what he had seen in the stadium. “No question”, the head coach said.
He was a calculated risk-taker when he needed to be. We needed to be aggressive and go down the field in that two-minute drive, and he did. He took care of the ball when it was prudent to. So largely, I was really just impressed with his demeanor, but that element of play, really, that’s why he’s getting the opportunity, because he’s displayed ability to take care of the ball. Mason had a lapse in that area in recent weeks. He’s been really solid.
In roughly three games’ worth of action, on 61 pass attempts, Hodges has thrown two interceptions. He has completed 41 passes, 67.2 percent, for 530 yards, averaging 8.7 yards per attempt, with three touchdowns.
While Hodges took the blame for his interception on Sunday against the Browns—and he did overthrow his man—Diontae Johnson, the intended target, also didn’t give any indication that he expected the ball to go his way, and had slowed on the route.
At the time, it was a 20-13 game, the Browns having just gotten a field goal to cut it down to a one-score game, so it was a very unfortunate time for the turnover, as well, though in fairness, they had just gotten done scoring 20 unanswered point at that time.
Every week he plays, he should be getting better and better, of course, given the fact that he is a rookie from a small school with limited reps at this level. In other words, today’s game should be the best of his career.