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 the fifth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—a new record for the franchise since the merger. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-7-1 and making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from the majority of the offensive line to Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams—not to mention Stephon Tuitt, essentially.
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 2021 season.
Player: Mason Rudolph
Experience: 5 Years
By now, we’ve completed all of our exit meetings with the players who were primary starters for the largest portions of the season last year. That means for the rest of the series, we will turn our attentions to the backups, which will include conversations about players who didn’t start, or didn’t finish, the season with the team—players like Melvin Ingram, Isaiah Buggs, and Corliss Waitman—who nevertheless played a meaningful role.
But we’ll be going in approximate order based on position, and that’s starts with the quarterback, specifically backup Mason Rudolph. For now, he enters the 2022 offseason as the favorite to be the Steelers’ starter next season following Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, pending future acquisitions.
The front office figures to be active in exploring their options in acquiring a new quarterback, but whether they are able to add an established veteran or a rookie who is able to start right away remains very much in question.
In spite of the fact that Rudolph’s only start of the 2021 season resulted in a tie with a then-winless Detroit Lions team, we did see some growth from the former third-round pick, particularly in one key area, which is pocket mobility. He actually, at times, showed a deftness in this area in avoiding pressure, and even picking his spots to run the ball when it was advantageous.
Because Roethlisberger was able to stay healthy, we didn’t see much action from Rudolph last season outside of that one start, which came about because Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19 the day before the game. Overall, he completed 35 of 58 pass attempts for 277 yards with a touchdown and an interception, which admittedly looked like a bad one. He did have his highest on-target pass ratio of his career when you factor out spikes, throwaways, and obvious dropped passes.