Technically speaking, Mason Rudolph has had a quarterbacks coach during his first two seasons. One does have to wonder, however, who exactly that was. Nominally, it was Randy Fichtner, who has also served as offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, and which will be his only title going forward.
But coaching assistant Matt Symmes spent so much time working with the quarterbacks, including while Fichtner was not there, that the quarterbacks were calling him Coach. While both are still around, the Pittsburgh Steelers brought in Matt Canada this offseason to serve as their quarterbacks coach.
It’s the first time since that job has changed hands since 2010, the year Fichtner took over as quarterbacks coach, holding that position for the past decade. The 2019 season showed that wielding that dual role was not advantageous to a team with young quarterbacks, so they made the change.
“It’s been great to have a quarterbacks coach now part of our organization to help myself as well as the other guys in the room”, third-year quarterback Mason Rudolph, taken in the third round during the 2018 NFL Draft, told reporters over the weekend. “It’s been great”.
I can’t recall the last time the Steelers have brought in a position coach who has been talked about more by other positions, but it sometimes feels like everybody has been asked to talk about Canada and what he’s bringing to the offense, from James Conner to Vance McDonald and beyond.
This is his first season working in the NFL, but he has decades of experience at the college level as a coach, and the majority of that has also involved being the offensive coordinator and calling plays. He has even coached a number of players on the current roster, even those on the defensive side of the ball when he was interim head coach for Maryland.
As for Rudolph, he is heading into a big season after starting eight games in 2019, posting a 5-3 record but also struggling a fair bit within that. He was even benched in favor of Devlin Hodges, a rookie undrafted free agent, but he’s ready to show the improvements he’s made.
“I’m very confident about myself. I think, when the organization supports you and has faith in you moving forward, that’s always going to build your confidence”, he said. “Right now, we’re just trying to take advantage of training camp reps and continue to improve and continue to get better every single day. This time of year is where we get the reps that count, and grow and development is what we’re all trying to move towards”.
The Steelers have expressed a level of comfort with Rudolph as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup, but Hodges and Paxton Lynch are competing for the number three quarterback role. The hope is that none of them have to play a snap for the next several years.