The Pittsburgh Steelers have a tough season ahead of them.
They lost Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending injury. Their AFC North rivals are gaining ground after making key acquisitions over the past two years. And they started their season on the back foot, losing their first three games.
However, their early-season predicament brought about a revelation in Mason Rudolph. The second-year QB has been manning the pockets since Big Ben left Week 2. He’s proven himself to be quite a capable QB that the Steelers can trust in his stead.
However, is he the future for the Steelers franchise should the inevitable happen and Big Ben hangs up his boots? Here are some things that we know about the young and promising playmaker.
He can definitely throw the football
There isn’t a big sample size to accurately rate his performance in the pros, but he’s been more than an adequate replacement for the Steelers so far.
Of He’s notched 515 yards and six touchdowns on the three games he made so far. More impressive is the fact that he’s throwing on a 67.6% completion rate.
He’s also quite careful with the football. While he still throws picks from time to time, he’s not playing like a rookie. He’s not throwing careless passes probably due to the things he learned as Big Ben’s backup.
He’s definitely not Ben Roethlisberger, but he can get the job done in the pocket.
His skillset is forcing the Steelers to adjust
Rudolph and Roethlisberger are two different QBs. While Big Ben immediately finds his man and slings the ball to him, Rudolph is still holding on to the ball a little longer than he should.
However, that doesn’t immediately mean that he’s a worse QB than Big Ben. After all, the entire Pittsburgh playbook is crafted upon Roethlisberger’s unique selling point as a top QB.
However, now’s the time for the Steelers to explore what’s out there. They know that they cannot keep relying on an aging Roethlisberger on the long run.
There are already calls for the Steelers to readjust their game plan. In fact, it’s already begun.
This is an interesting time for Steelers fans. If the team does give him the game plan he works best with, will he be able to lead the team to a playoff berth?
The Rudolph-Smith-Schuster connection is key
It’s too early to call it, but we’ll call it as we see it.
Rudolph and JuJu Smith-Schuster are the second comings of Big Ben and Antonio Brown. If the two develop to their full potential, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t succeed on the field.
In fact, Rudolph already admitted that Smith-Schuster’s one of the first players he looks for whenever he’s about to make a pass. There’s chemistry building up between the two.
If these two play well for the remainder of the season, they’ll be making a lot of noise in the AFC this season.
There’s plenty of reasons why Steelers fans should be excited about Rudolph’s first season as the team’s starting QB. However, the one thing that drives him is hunger.
He cannot accept that he’s taken in the third round despite being in a class full of talented QBs. He’s eager to prove to the entire league that he has what it takes. That he belongs.
And the Steelers are going to benefit from it.