Mason Rudolph may never be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise quarterback. But Mike Tomlin likes the direction he’s heading in. With questions swirling about Ben Roethlisberger’s future with the team, Tomlin was asked to evaluate the play of Mason Rudolph as he exits his third season in the league.
“I thought he displayed that he took a step in growth and development with his performance, even though it was a small sample size,” Tomlin said during his year-end Wednesday press conference. “I would imagine he’s going to continue with that growth and development.”
Rudolph started just one game this season, the Week 17 finale against Cleveland after the Steelers clinched the division and had little to play for. Pittsburgh lost that game but Rudolph had several positive moments, showing great arm strength and accuracy downfield, leading to several chunk plays. He ended the game going 22/39 for 315 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
In our assessment of him, Rudolph was a more aggressive, confident QB with excellent deep ball success for a team that struggled in that category for most of the season. But his issues dealing with pressure and overall pocket awareness were still on display.
Overall, he appeared in five games, mostly for kneeldowns, throwing just four passes prior to his start against Cleveland. There’s no question he looked better than he did replacing Roethlisberger in 2019, a miserable experience for all parties.
Tomlin didn’t commit to what that means for Rudolph’s future other than being excited to see him return in 2021.
“We’ll see where that leads us in terms of what he’s able to provide us. I’m excited that he was able to display that. And I think it’s reasonable for me to expect that and for him to expect for that general trajectory to continue.”
Presumably, Rudolph will enter next season in the same position he entered 2020. Ben Roethlisberger’s backup. Next year will be the final year of his rookie contract, leaving the future of the Steelers’ top two quarterbacks unclear.