The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
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: Will we see Mason Rudolph make strides from he second season to his third?
Mason Rudolph played a lot more football last season than anybody expected or wanted him to, thanks to the injury to Ben Roethlisberger just six quarters into the year. While Devlin Hodges also logged a lot of time, the bulk of the remainder of the season was left to be born upon Rudolph’s shoulders, and his performance left a lot to be desired.
Despite the fact that the Steelers did manage to go 5-3 in his eight starts (and one loss was in overtime with Hodges having taken over due to injury), it wouldn’t be accurate to say that Rudolph’s individual play was a significantly positive contributor to that effort.
He had more success earlier one as the team was more limited with what they were asking him to do, but he struggled more as they continued to expand his responsibilities. Aside from that, he also had important mechanical and basic flaws, including his pocket presence, that led to unnecessary negative outcomes.
The hope is that Rudolph doesn’t have to take the field until at least after Roethlisberger retires, of course, but the reason that backup quarterbacks exist is because there is always the possibility that they will be needed. So any sign of improvement from the former third-round pick as he heads into year three would be greatly welcomed.