Mike Tomlin has steered his Pittsburgh Steelers to significant, though qualified, success over the course of his 15-year tenure here. He has one of the best regular-season records in the game, active and historically, with seven division titles and 10 playoff appearances, though just an 8-9 postseason record, even if one of those wins is a Super Bowl. He is 0-3 in the past five seasons.
One thing that has never been questioned, however, is his ability to communicate with his players and coaches. While some have had disappointing tenures with the team, I can’t recall anybody ever speaking negatively about their interactions with Tomlin as a leader and motivator.
That includes Mason Rudolph, whom he drafted in 2018. They are entering uncharted territory with the starting quarterback position up for grabs, with Rudolph being one of the competitors. He talked to Rich Eisen on the latter’s show recently about Tomlin and his impact, including through this time.
“He’s great. He’s had my back for a long time. We have a lot of informal conversations that are fun. He’s a master of psychology”, he said. “We’ve all been on teams where coaches are CEOs, and they kind of hang back in the shadows. He does a great job of connecting. He’s asking you, ‘Hey, how’s your brother doing in Hollywood? How’s his acting?’ He’s just, a master of psychology, as I said, and very personal with his players”.
In case you’re wondering, Rudolph indeed has a brother who has become an actor, something that they also discussed on the show. Logan Rudolph was also a defensive lineman for the Clemson Tigers from 2017-2019. Neither he nor his older brother can act his way into a starting job, however.
Rudolph will be competing with Mitch Trubisky, and possibly a 2022 rookie draft selection, for the right to succeed Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers’ starting quarterback. He had been Roethlisberger’s backup for the past three seasons, understanding that he never truly had a chance, until now, to compete for a starting job.
None of this is surprising to anybody. The team signed Rudolph to a one-year extension heading into the 2021 season recognizing that Roethlisberger would be retiring. They gave him an incentive-laden deal to entice him to remain under contract through 2022 rather than hit the open market.
Even though Roethlisberger is gone, however, he still has his work cut out for him to earn that starting role. But one thing you can be surer of is that Tomlin will convince him and everybody else, or at least try to, that he is in the running until the running has ceased.