Are fans more annoyed when somebody speaks poorly of a player or coach they value highly, or the opposite: when somebody speaks highly of a player or coach about whom they have a negative opinion? I really don’t know, but I would imagine that it’s close. Perhaps this article will be telling.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up to start Mason Rudolph at quarterback for the regular season finale, a game in which head coach Mike Tomlin has determined that it is in the team’s greater interests to rest key starters than to have them play the game.
Suffice it to say that the last time Rudolph started a game last year, things could have gone better. He was coming off of an awful four-interception game, and then was benched after the first drive of the third quarter as he continued to struggle.
The was just a second-year quarterback at that point with no prior in-game experience. But he got plenty of experience last year. Now he has the opportunity to show everybody what we haven’t been able to see: how he has grown from last season. This was an especially difficult task with no preseason, but Ben Roethlisberger has seen it.
“I think he has gotten better. He has gotten better every year in terms of understanding and knowing the offense, reads, throws”, he told reporters yesterday about his backup. “He’s physically gifted, we know that. He’s smart. We know he can make all the throws and do things, but even the ways that I have seen it are in game”.
One area in which he has noted that Rudolph has shown to him how he has improved is in the between-series conversations that he has had with the young quarterback. He noted that he routinely talks with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada, as well as quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who has been in the league longer, but Rudolph is in there as well.
“Mason has gotten to the point, especially in the last few weeks, where he is chiming in with thoughts and plays that, ‘hey Ben, what about this, or what about this?’”, he said. “I think that shows growth and maturity of a guy that understands the offense and kind of what we are trying to do on a week-to-week basis. I think that’s been really, really good”.
This isn’t actually incredibly new for him. Last year, Rudolph actually told reporters that one way in which Tomlin was able to keep him engaged in the game and in the learning process while he was the third-string quarterback was essentially to be willing to listen to his thoughts and ideas, and he’s never stopped since then.