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Mike Tomlin Praises Mason Rudolph’s Performance Against Jaguars: ‘He Looked Like A Varsity Guy In A JV Game’

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph was the third quarterback to play in Saturday night’s 16-15 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and despite playing with mostly backups, Rudolph earned praise for his performance from Head Coach Mike Tomlin. 

“I thought he looked like a varsity guy in a JV game and I told him that. You know, It was reminiscent of when we had Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich as backups. You know, when you’ve got a veteran guy like that late in a preseason game at the quarterback position, he should be the best player on the field. It should show. And I thought it did,” Tomlin said in his postgame press conference via the team’s YouTube channel

Rudolph did play pretty well, going 17-21 for 127 yards and a touchdown pass to Tyler Snead that ended up being the game-winner. On the final drive after Justin Layne’s interception, Rudolph was 4-6 for 52 yards with the touchdown in what was his best drive of the night.

Rudolph’s only mistake was taking an intentional grounding in the end zone which resulted in a safety. Given the pressure he was facing, it wasn’t too egregious but he should probably have the awareness to realize that he was still in the pocket and couldn’t just throw the ball away. Despite that, I liked what I saw out of Rudolph and he did a really solid job leading the offense down the field in two crucial scoring drives in the fourth quarter. 

At this point, Rudolph is showcasing for other teams as much as he is for the Steelers. The fact he played behind Pickett tonight doesn’t really help his long-term standing with the team, and with him being on the last year of his deal, it seems unlikely his stay in Pittsburgh would extend beyond 2022. Although Omar Khan said earlier in the week that the team wasn’t looking to make a trade involving one of their quarterbacks, I have to imagine he would listen if a team floated a fifth-rounder in return for Rudolph.

While I do like the idea of keeping him around as a veteran backup and just another guy with starting experience Pickett can turn to with questions, but ultimately I got to think a trade is probably best for the team and the player if Pittsburgh can get a fair offer for him. 

Tonight’s performance was a good sign for Rudolph, though. He didn’t let the early intentional grounding/safety call affect his performance, and he managed to play sound, mistake-free football after the fact. He made a few throws that weren’t great, but by and large, he looked the part of a good backup quarterback. 

With the preseason finale coming up next week against the Detroit Lions, I’m willing to Rudolph will see a few more snaps. If he can perform the way he did tonight, I’m sure the Steelers will be very satisfied, and I also wouldn’t be surprised if evaluators from other teams take a closer look at the fourth-year quarterback.

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