The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks a slight improvement from the past two seasons, during which they did not even qualify for the playoffs altogether. They have now done four seasons without securing a victory beyond regular season play.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
They did manage to go 12-4 during the regular season, and secured their first AFC North title since 2017, posting a new franchise record by opening the season with 11 consecutive wins, but of course it all fell apart after that. Their only victory after that required a 17-point comeback.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2020 season.
Player: QB Mason Rudolph
Experience: 3 Years
With all of the starters now taken care of, our exit meeting turns to the rest of the depth chart, beginning at the ‘top’, with the quarterback position, and the top backup to Ben Roethlisberger for the past two seasons has been Mason Rudolph, their 2018 third-round draft choice.
The Steelers got an opportunity to get an extensive look at Rudolph during the 2019 season, of course, for reasons that you already know, though that obviously produced results that could only be described at best as mixed. He started eight of a possible 13 games (missing one due to injury), with Devlin Hodges starting the other five (plus the one he missed due to injury).
But he got another chance to start in 2020, coming in the season finale after the Steelers already secured a 12-3 record by that point and locked up the AFC North. Without much to play for (the best-case scenario was to move up from the third seed to the second seed, and the worst-case scenario was remaining in the third seed), the coaches rested a number of starters, including Roethlisberger.
Unsurprisingly, Rudolph’s performance was somewhat uneven, and he did show many of the negative tendencies that we saw from him last year, but he also looked noticeably more confident and decisive, and more willing to push the ball down the field, which he did with some effectiveness.
It was a losing effort, and it can’t be fairly discussed without noting that it came against a Cleveland Browns defense that was missing a lot of starters in the secondary, but it was progress, and we’ll just have to see how he and the team can build upon that in 2021. For all we know, he’ll get a lot more playing time this year.