Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph said he is looking forward to competing for the starting job in 2022 and working in a more complete version of Matt Canada’s offensive system going forward.
In an appearance on The Jim Rome Show on Friday, Rudolph said that this offseason is different for him knowing that he will have a real opportunity to be the Steelers’ starting quarterback for the first time in his career with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger.
“I’m excited to take that next step,” Rudolph said, while acknowledging that the Steelers will likely bring in competition for the role, whether that is in the form of a free agent or a player taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.
“There’s always going to be competition,” Rudolph said. “No matter if we draft somebody, if we bring somebody else in, I’m never going to shy away from that. That’s an obvious component. We know they’re going to add to the room, right? So, I’m excited to compete and looking forward to the opportunity to play.”
One of the other things that has Rudolph excited about the upcoming season is a chance to play in what he refers to as a version of Canada’s offensive system, which he claims was chanced to accommodate Roethlisberger.
“There was some concepts, some things that Ben had ran and Ben had been comfortable with for 10 years,” Rudolph explained. “No matter who the coordinator was, he was tied to some concepts and I think that was a bit of a mesh between him and the coordinator. You get that kind of leeway when you’re an 18-year, future Hall of Fame quarterback.
“But I’m excited this year just to kind of have the dialogue with Matt and move forward with his bread and butter. He’s a play-action guy, he’s a push the ball down the field kind of guy. I think that suits my style well.”
The Steelers certainly did not run much play-action or take many deep shots with Roethlisberger at the helm the last two seasons, with either Randy Fichtner or Canada as offensive coordinator. The offense the Steelers ran in 2021 did not strongly resemble what Canada ran in previous stops at Maryland, LSU, Pitt and NC State.
The Steelers offense did look like a unit where half of its playbook didn’t fit with the rest in 2021. The disjoined effort led to just 4.8 yards per play, tied for 28th in the NFL.
Most of the Steelers fanbase seemed about as enthusiastic for Canada’s return as they do for Rudolph’s ascension, which general manager Kevin Colbert caught blowback for lauding earlier this offseason.
Rudolph acknowledged that he’s heard the noise surrounding his situation and is trying to use it as motivation going forward.
“You try to shut it out and I think that anyone that says that they can shut it out completely is probably telling a bit of a lie,” Rudolph said. “There’s social media, you can walk by a restaurant and see something on a TV. It’s going to be put it in your face eventually.
“How do you handle it? I think I let it motivate me a bit. But also, you can’t dwell on it. But you’ve got to control what you can control.”