This week has been a roller coaster for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger hurts his elbow during the Seahawks game then the team proceeds to lose in terrible fashion due to making mental mistakes.
On Monday, it is discovered that Big Ben will require surgery and miss the remainder of the season. Finally, the Steelers confirm that by trading away 2020 1st round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick to fill the void of Sean Davis due to his season ending injury.
As a fan, it’s clear that trusting an unproven player over a two-time super bowl winning quarterback is asinine. Personally, I don’t think it’s all that crazy to expect him to have success. I had them winning the Super Bowl but that’s obviously changed. My expectations are tempered, but here are three reasons why Steelers fans should continue to believe this season is not completely lost.
This team believes in him
As expected, the entire team is backing Mason Rudolph believing this 0-2 start can be turned around after hearing that Big Ben is lost for the year. If you haven’t heard the quotes from the locker room, well you should.
Essentially, it’s confirmed that the team has full confidence in him. The words flowing from multiple players from locker room say it all. Players like Ramon Foster, David Decastro, and Mike Hilton have been vocal about their confidence in Rudolph. Foster and Decastro both are saying things like the playbook didn’t shrink when he entered the game. That there was no drop off in terms of talent.
That tells me Rudolph has worked hard to get out of his street clothes he wore his rookie year. On Monday after the Roethlisberger news, Hilton was screaming during an interview that he’s built for this shit. He’s a defender too so he’s trying to do everything he can to break the confidence of the backup during practice. However, the biggest backer of him no doubt is head coach Mike Tomlin. This is proven by the fact they drafted him a year after taking QB Josh Dobbs in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL draft. Tomlin saying that he had a 1st round grade on him, and then saw enough to award him the QB2 position after this preseason. Confidence in a young QB goes a long way from everyone in that locker room.
Mason Rudolph was not a scrub at Oklahoma State
During his years here, he boasted a 92:26 TD to INT ratio. Now I’ll admit, him playing in the Big 12 and the Mike Gundy offense can allow him to have this success. At the end of they day, Rudolph had to execute. His senior year, he won the Sammy Baugh award which goes to the nation’s most outstanding passer and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award which goes to the nation’s most outstanding senior QB. He finished his senior year with 4904 passing yards, 37 TDs, 9 INTs, and a career high completion percentage of 65%. A vast majority of these throws went to James Washington who was drafted 1 round before Rudolph in 2018. That’s a huge luxury that most collegiate QBs entering the NFL do not have.
We’ve seen this movie before
This is not the first time a QB has come in to take the reigns of the starting QB position during the season. The list in my lifetime has been astronomical in terms of starters getting hurt, and backups have a success. Nick Foles came in as a backup and led the Eagles to a Super Bowl back in 2017 after Carson Wentz had a season ending knee injury. Dak Prescott has a phenomenal preseason in 2016 and then stepped in to lead the Cowboys to the NFC East division crown. He also beat Zeke Elliott to win rookie of the year. Despite being later in the season, Colin Kaepernick stepped into the starting job when Alex Smith went down in late 2011. He was so good in fact that he continued to start after Smith was cleared from his concussion and lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
NFL fans would not be calling Tom Brady the GOAT if Drew Bledsoe did not get hurt back in 2001. You know the rest of that story. Sort of the same story (to an obvious lesser extent) with Kurt Warner taking over for Trent Green back in 1999. He also went on to win the Super Bowl that year. And as a Steelers fan, we saw Tommy Maddox hurt his elbow in week 2 of the 2004 season only to be replaced by Ben Roethlisberger.
Bottom line is this: I believe in Mason Rudolph. My Super Bowl hopes as a fan and football mind are all but gone though and they should be. No one in their right mind should truly expect Mason Rudolph to come in and save this season.
To say it’s not possible though, would be completely dumb for the reasons I stated above! He’s now got the keys to the kingdom and a more than fair (also unfortunate) opportunity to show why the Steelers higher ups believed in him so much that they drafted him despite having a HOF QB.