A few years ago, the Steelers offseason optimism was based around players getting better from year one to year two of their NFL careers.
James Conner became the Steelers starter in his second season. He made the Pro Bowl. T.J. Watt went from being a seven sack guy in year one, to a 13 sack player in year two. JuJu went from being a 917 yard receiver to a nearly 1,500 yard dude.
The Steelers were optimistic those players could each take a step and they crossed their fingers hoping they could get there.
I keep hearing that Mason Rudolph "sucks" and is an inadequate backup.
How about some nuance? Why can't the same happen for Mason Rudolph? Why can't he get better? In order to progress, one must get an opportunity. Rudolph got an opportunity last year
So many have written off the Steelers QB in his first year as a full time backup. I think that’s wrong. Matt Williamson, whom I trust, says he still thinks Mason can be a good backup in this league.
I think Rudolph's struggles, upon review, were somewhat overstated last year. Against Miami, he had a respectable 251 yards. His best game of the year. Why? He handed the ball to James Conner who rushed for 145 yards, and he threw to JuJu who had 103 receiving yards. When the best players on this offense were healthy, Mason played his best. Coincidence!? No.
His worst game of the year, undoubtedly, was against the Browns. He threw four picks. Not surprisingly, Tevin Jones, Trey Edmunds, Johnny Holton, Jaylen Samuels and Nick Vannett combined for 12 catches. The Steelers best skill position players were hurt, and the backup QB struggled. Go figure. Nine of their 14 carries that game went to Edmunds, Brooks-James, and Jaylen Samuels.
You can tell me Rudolph sucked that game. He did. He’d say the same thing. The circumstances, on the road with that group, were terrible. The Steelers had the worst cast of skill position players in the league at that point.
The Jets game, when he came in to relieve Duck Hodges was probably his best performance of the year according to Kevin Colbert. “We feel good about how Mason progressed. Was he perfect? Of course not," Colbert said on the DVE Morning show, "Did he fight back through that adversity? Absolutely. The best segment of his play was the Jets game. We were encouraged.” Rudolph had a QB rating of 104 before he got hurt and his season came to an end.
Mason did have to fight through a lot last year. He had the concussion against the Ravens. He was called a racist by Garrett. He was assaulted with a helmet.
I think he can be better this year if he's called upon. Improvement can happen. So keep an open mind, Steelers Nation.