The Steelers, behind the arm of Mason Rudolph, went 3-0 down the stretch and pushed right into the playoffs. Now, they will head to Buffalo and face the Bills. But to even get to this point, Rudolph had to give the team a standard of play that raised the floor of the group substantially.
So, what did he do well and what has he struggled with? In Baltimore, Rudolph gave a mixed bag to work with, but he has some work to do if the team wants to win a few playoff games.
Even though this was the dregs of the Ravens defense, make no mistake that Mason Rudolph faced what might have been his toughest challenge with the depth the Ravens boasted. He showcased much of what made him pop throughout the first two games. So, let’s start on the positive side of things for Rudolph.
For one, he continued to get the ball to the right guy. I have a hard time getting on Rudolph too hard for a lot of things because when you make the right reads and distribute the ball, good things happen. Rudolph has been an expert at making the right read and getting to the guys he needs to, and he did so again on Saturday. That allows for those easy yards after the catch and or big plays, like Diontae Johnson’s touchdown, to occur.
The negative is that he did put the ball in harm’s way more. His most dangerous throw yet came when Rudolph missed Marcus Williams coming over the middle of the field down from his quarter’s safety position, nearly throwing an interception in the process. In addition, his poise is a blessing and a curse. I can point to several throws on Saturday where his poise allowed him to get the ball off. But other times, even a subtle move in the pocket would give him just an extra second to fire the ball. Instead, it can lead to strip sacks. This is the next step in Rudolph’s progression as a pocket passer. He has to move just functionally in the pocket rather than becoming too statue-like at times.
Overall, he played fine. The sloppy conditions naturally gave this game a far different script than his last two outings, so it is no surprise they kept the throws in a rhythm style. And he completed 90 percent of his passes while being a bonafide point guard. That’s what they asked him to do, and he delivered what he needed to deliver.
In the future, his accuracy needs to be on point. They can not miss any potential big play. But Rudolph does what you need any good point guard quarterback to do, and that is to distribute the ball around to the right spot. When a guy does that, a lot of other things naturally click into place.