There may be nothing more widely discussed in football that nobody wants to see happen than the backup quarterback position, especially when there is a competition to decide exactly who will serve that role. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, toward the end of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, the position has been a real point of focus.
In the end, the predictable played out, with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins making the 53-man roster. Rudolph appears to be set to resume his direct backup role that he has occupied for the past two seasons. Joshua Dobbs is also on the Reserve/Injured List (and is not eligible to be designated for return).
Backups are, of course, backups for a reason. They’re not as strong a starting option as the players in front of him, in the vast majority of cases. They likely have key deficiencies that hold them back from making that jump. But for quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan’s perspective, that’s his job.
I think each of them have their inherent strengths and weaknesses, and that would be on us as coaches to make sure that if they were called upon—and there’s not a team in the National Football League that wants their second or third or fourth quarterback to be called upon, so we’re knocking on wood that things stay the way that they are—but if called upon, we would want to be smart about the things that we ask them to do, to play to their strengths and try to minimize and camouflage any of the weaknesses that they have. Both men have worked extremely hard and have put the time in, have had a great attitude, so we have great confidence in both of those young men.
Both Rudolph and Haskins have a decent amount of starting experience, with Rudolph owning a 5-4 yards in nine starts with the Steelers over the course of the past two seasons. Haskins started 13 games during his two years with the Washington Football Team.
The latter, a former first-round draft pick, seemed to hold the momentum for most of the offseason, even if it was difficult for him to find quality practice reps. Ultimately, a poor performance in the preseason finale, which he was given the chance to start, left many begrudgingly acknowledging Rudolph as their primary backup for another year.