Mason Rudolph is entering his fourth season as a quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and potential front-runner to replace Ben Roethlisberger as the team’s face. In his prior three seasons, it hasn’t been a stable group of coaches working with Rudolph, as the Steelers went through turnover at both offensive coordinator and QBs coach.
Speaking with the media after OTAs Tuesday, Rudolph made sure to credit Roethlisberger as someone who has helped teach him through the coaching staff shuffles.
“There’s so many positives that you can take from being under a Hall of Fame quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger for three years, learning from that, having a chance to watch him work, watch him interact with people,” Rudolph said, when asked about the turnover at OC and QBs coach.
Even though the coaches were what the media asked Rudolph about, he invoked Roethlisberger’s name first. Getting to learn from a player bound for Canton in less than a decade is an invaluable resource for any young player in the NFL. And having that consistent presence there for feedback and coaching, especially during an extended audition for the job in 2019, is one of the biggest assets Rudolph has had in his NFL career to date.
Working at OTAs this month is Rudolph’s first exposure on-field to his new offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. Canada replaced Randy Fichtner, whom Pittsburgh fired after three seasons as the OC.
Rudolph already has experience working with Canada, who Pittsburgh brought in as QBs coach last season. It is still a transition Rudolph has to make, going from Fichtner’s style to Canada’s running the offense. After mentioning Roethlisberger’s impact on him, Rudolph addressed both of his offensive coordinators, as well as a third name.
“I enjoyed Randy Fichtner. From day one, he was there with me for the whole time, and I think he really helped me grow,” Rudolph said. “And then Matt, now having Matt and Mike, Matt’s the coordinator and Mike’s the guy you can go to with questions. He’s really done a great job these first three weeks of holding us accountable in the little things, and he’s a stickler on some stuff, but it’s making us all better.”
That third name mentioned, Mike, is Rudolph’s new QBs coach, Mike Sullivan. Brought in after Canada’s promotion from the position, Sullivan is the third QBs coach Rudolph worked with. He spent one season under Canada, and the two prior years, he worked with Fichtner, who filled both the OC and QBs coach jobs.
Having three different QBs coaches in four seasons isn’t ideal, and it’s been a challenge for Rudolph to overcome as he tries to keep his status as a likely heir to Roethlisberger. Through crediting Big Ben for his help over the seasons and the help he received from former and current coaches, Rudolph believes he has continued to improve and get closer to what Pittsburgh hopes he can become.
“It’s been a great three years and I’ve grown a lot and made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve learned from it all,” Rudolph said. “And I think, I don’t want to make the same mistake twice. Coach Tomlin always talks about that.”