Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: QB Mason Rudolph
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: At least for those in the black and gold, this game means more for Mason Rudolph than it does anybody else. It is basically his 2020 showcase, his first and likely only opportunity to show…well, anybody that he has made any kind of strides since the 2019 season.
The Steelers having clinched the AFC North and at least the three seed, head coach Mike Tomlin has opted that starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be given the regular season finale off, which in turn gives third-year Mason Rudolph the opportunity to start that game under center.
As a second-year quarterback last season, Rudolph started eight games in total, and it would be reasonable to say that things could have gone better. He got benched in the end, with rookie undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges starting the final five games of the season.
He did get into the penultimate game last year amid Hodges’ own struggles, and he looked like he was playing better than the point at which he was benched, but would suffer a shoulder injury that kept him out for the rest of the year.
Since then, he hasn’t really had much of any opportunity to show anybody his progress. There wasn’t even a preseason this year, which is the most important time for backups. He has played a bit in the regular season, but mostly in garbage time handing the ball off, so there is very little to be gleaned from that.
This is now his stage. He knows that this is now his moment. If he is going to change the narrative out there about him, then it’s going to come with him coming out and playing well against the Browns. While he might have a couple of backups protecting him, he should have a full complement of skill players to work with, or close to it—enough, at least, for there to be no excuses about how he performs.