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2021 Offseason Questions: Will Dwayne Haskins Make Strong Push For Backup Job?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?

These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.

Question: Will Dwayne Haskins make a strong push for the backup job?

If you only stepped into the Steelers’ atmosphere yesterday and your first exposure to the team was their Friday Night Lights practice, you might be surprised that Mason Rudolph was regarded, at least for now, as the team’s backup quarterback, and not Dwayne Haskins.

Based on training camp reports—chiefly our own—Haskins clearly had the better day, though Rudolph didn’t help himself with two interceptions, including a 107-yard pick six by James Pierre during the Seven Shots drill.

Generally, reports have been fairly positive surrounding Haskins since training camp opened. He is a former first-round pick with starting experience, so it shouldn’t be too out of left field to suggest that he could possibly be a backup.

The Steelers signed him to a Reserve/Future contract in January with no guaranteed money. While he is fighting Joshua Dobbs for the number three quarterback job, he could also possibly supplant Rudolph. The Steelers already list him ahead of Dobbs on the depth chart.

The preseason, more than anywhere else, is where things will be decided, but the team will have to see more than just big throws made against backup defenders. They have to see him be able to read a defense, to run the offense, to make smart decisions. Rudolph is the known commodity that they can live with. Haskins has to be better.

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