PITTSBURGH — When the Steelers used a third-round pick on Mason Rudolph in the 2018 NFL Draft, many considered him as a potential heir apparent to starter Ben Roethlisberger, who had publicly considered retirement.
When Roethlisberger signed a contact extension through 2021, it seemed that the need for a replacement in the short term had lessened to the point that the pick invested in Rudolph could have been better spent elsewhere.
But Rudolph won the Steelers’ backup quarterback job with strong play throughout the 2019 preseason, showing a great improvement over his rookie season and providing a glimpse of his true potential as a possible future replacement Roethlisberger.
Head coach Mike Tomlin made that decision official on Tuesday, and talked about how Rudolph was able to sway his decision to unseat incumbent Josh Dobbs.
“He took very good care of the ball,” Tomlin said. “He showed the natural maturation process that we expect from second year players. He showed up in great physical condition. I think he showed a guy that has been a lap around the track in that regard. I think it set the stage for a more consistent performance. I think he has grown a lot in terms of his understanding of how we attack people and his role within the offense, and I think it showed within his play. All of those are reasons why he is the backup quarterback.”
But Tomlin cautioned that like all jobs, the backup quarterback for each week will be decided on a day-by-day basis.
“It is all very fluid just like all of our jobs,” Tomlin said. “I think one of the things you have to relay to a team, particularly at this portion of the season, particularly because we have a lot of young guys that are living out their dreams, guys wanting to make the 53-man roster, et cetera. They will continually earn those roles in those positions in the group day to day. It never ends. There is no opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief, if you will.
“It won’t be for Mason. It won’t be for any of us. He better earn that second quarterback job daily. If not, Dobbs will be waiting. That is just the nature of this thing at this level. We relayed that, not only to the quarterbacks but to all of the guys. This is just the beginning for us. How we proceed the division of labor, what we ask guys to do, the amount of which we ask guys to do, whether or not they continue to be here is based on performance. That is just professional football.”
Tomlin Bringing Referees into Steelers Practice to Help Penalty Issues
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin thinks his team took too many penalties in their Week 2 win over the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field on Saturday, and he’s going to do something about it.
Tomlin said on Tuesday that he’s bringing referees into practice this week in order to help his team remain in compliance with the NFL rulebook on gamedays.
“It hurt our efforts on both sides of the ball,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “It hurt our efforts in terms of possessing the ball on offense. We had two critical holding calls in the first half that put us behind the chains and essentially stopped drives. Ball possession and drives, there’s too much scarcity in that discussion to get major penalties and throw yourself behind the chains. We’re just not good enough to overcome those things at this juncture, and quite frankly, I would imagine not many of us in this game are that good at this juncture.
“On the defensive side of the ball, we didn’t play clean enough on the back end on possession downs. They were able to extend drives through DPI and things of that nature. When you get people to that point to where you have them in a third down situation and you have the ball snapped and you’re executing the rush, there’s just too much ground covered to start over and give them a new set of downs. We have to get better in those areas.”
Special teams were also part of the problem, Tomlin said, as the Steelers had a Diontae Johnson punt return touchdown called back due to a block in the back. In total, the Steelers were penalized 10 times for 89 yards.
“We are not only analyzing and openly talking about the penalties, but we are working hard to rectify it,” he said. “We intend to bring some officials to our practice work this week in an effort to make a point of emphasis in that area. That’s important for us. Again, I just thought that was a catalyst for a lot of negativity in the game for us.”
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said after the game that the team felt that “some of the calls weren’t going their way,” but Tomlin said they don’t consider whether or not they think a call should have been made when assessing and evaluating team performance.
“We coach. We don’t officiate the game,” he said “We are not assessing judgment based on what’s called. We are simply acknowledging what is called and we are making whatever necessary change in our behavior to make sure that it is not called moving forward. It’s as simple as that for us.”
Tomlin said the team is still working through the procedures to have the officials they want to use tested and able to be on the practice field at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex when the team returns to work on Wednesday.
Video: Kevin Dotson on First NFL Start, Confidence Level
Steelers rookie guard Kevin Dotson speaks with the media via Zoom after making his first career start in the Steelers second game of the 2020 season against the Denver Broncos.
While DeCastro’s return likely will mean an end to Dotson starting, it’s a testament to his skill and confidence level that he was able to play well in early in a season that lends itself to being more difficult for inexperienced players to fill in.
Steelers Super Bowl Odds Improve After 2-0 Start
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl odds have shortened after their 2-0 start to the season.
Opening the 2020 season at 22/1, the Steelers are now 20/1 to win Super Bowl LV, courtesy of BetOnline.ag.
The Steelers were not the only team to see their prospects rise, with the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers also seeing their odds shorten.
After key injuries and inconsistency to start the year, the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers both have longer odds than where they began.
The Kansas City Chiefs — whose odds remained the same — and the Ravens are currently the favorites to win Super Bowl LV at 5/1.