Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has broken his silence and voiced support for quarterback Mason Rudolph amid new allegations that he used a racial slur directed at Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.
“I support Mason Rudolph not only because I know him, but also because I was on the field immediately following the altercation with Myles Garrett,” Tomlin said in a statement released by the team Saturday morning.
— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) February 15, 2020
Tomlin went on to say that in his many conversations with members of the Browns organizations, he “received no indication of anything racial or anything of that nature in those interactions.”
Tomlin’s statement comes just days after Garrett doubled down on his accusation that Rudolph directed a racial slur at him at the end of the teams’ November 14th meeting in Cleveland.
“He called me the N-word,” Garrett told ESPN’s Mina Kimes during an interview for Outside The Lines. “He called me a ‘stupid N-word‘.”
Garrett first accused Rudolph of using the slur while appealing his indefinite suspension by the NFL. The suspension was upheld for the remainder of the 2019 season, with Garrett being officially reinstated by the league last Wednesday.
The saga began at the tail end of the Steelers’ 21-7 loss to the Browns at First Energy Stadium, when Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s helmet and struck him in the head with it, triggering a bench clearing brawl.
While the Steelers have been adamant about their desire to move past the situation, Tomlin’s statement shows that the organization’s patience may be wearing thin.
Odds in Steelers Favor to Make Playoffs in 2020
The Steelers have missed the NFL playoffs each of the last two season, but oddsmakers have faith that they will make a return to the postseason in 2020.
Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs this upcoming season at -180 (5/9), according to BetOnline.ag.
With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returning from the elbow injury that sidelined him the majority of the 2019 campaign, there is reason for optimism that the team will be much improved from last season’s disappointment.
In addition to getting back their franchise quarterback, the Steelers furhter bolstered their offense through free agency with the signings of tight end Eric Ebron, fullback Derek Watt and guard Stefen Wisniewski. All three signings should help an anemic offense that was 29th in rushing and 31st in passing in 2019.
Pittsburgh will also return one of the league’s best defensive unit, led by outside linebacker T.J. Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Steelers led the league with 54 sacks last year, and had the NFL’s third-best pass defense.
Just one other AFC North team is favored to make the playoff this upcoming season, the division champion Baltimore Ravens at -1000 (1/10). Already led by the reigning MVP in quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens made a big addition this off-season by acquiring defensive end Calais Campbell from the Jacksonville Jaguars
The odds for the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals are not as promising, with both favored to miss the postseason at +125 (5/4) and +800 (8/1), respectively.
Steelers Draft Picks in the 21st Century: Quarterback
Yeah, this is going to be a short one.
The Steelers have spent a lot of draft capital on the offense during Colbert’s tenure, but the quarterback position has been pretty much wrapped up since the team spent their first round pick on a quarterback from Miami of Ohio in 2004.
In recent years the Steelers have spent a few mid-round picks on backups (and possible heirs) as Ben Roethlisberger nears retirement, but it hasn’t yet entered 2005 Green Bay Packers Aaron Rogers/Brett Favre Packers territory.
From 2000-2003 the Steelers rotated between Kordell Stewart, Kent Graham and XFL MVP Tommy Maddox with varying degrees of success. Who knows what would have happened if the Steelers hadn’t been upset by the spygate enhanced New England Patriots in 2001, but that failure would lead to Stewart being cast off and the fateful 6-10 2003 season which allowed the team to get the 11th overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft.
The 2004 draft was loaded with quarterbacks: Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger. The only question was would one fall to the Steelers? One did and the rest is history. Roethlisberger is a future Hall of Famer, has won two Super Bowls and will be entering his 17th season with the team in 2019. His 144 career wins is seventh all-time and his 13 playoff victories is 6th.
Despite leading the league in interceptions his last full season in 2018, Roethlisberger’s 2.4 interception percentage that season was actually tied for the 5th best of his career and he also had career highs in completions, attempts and yardage. Not the sign of a quarterback nearing the end of his career. If his elbow has fully recovered, he should be in line for another big year, even at age 38.
2017: 4th round, Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
2018: 3rd round, Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
This is where things started to get interesting. Were the Steelers taking flyers on potential replacements, or just in need of a backup? With second day quarterback selections in back-to-back seasons, the team spent more draft capital than Roethlisberger would have preferred. Rudolph had his ups and downs in 2019 as the starter after Roethlisberger’s injury and whether or not he can take on the mantle when Ben retires is up for debate.
2000-2020 draft quarterback breakdown
Total selections: 6
Years selecting an OL: 6/20
Selections by round:
1st round: 1
2nd round: 0
3rd round: 1
4th round: 2
5th round: 2
6th round: 0
7th round: 0
Selections by conference:
Big 12: 2
Big 10: 0
PAC 12: 1
Power 5: 5
Group of 5: 1
There’s not much to say, the Steelers have had a franchise quarterback since 2003. He’s helped them win two Super Bowls in three trips and will one day enter the Hall of Fame.
Steelers Sign another from XFL, DE/LB Dewayne Hendrix
The Steelers have signed former Pitt defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, Steelers Now has confirmed. The news of Hendrix’s signing was first reported by NFL Draft Diamonds.
Hendrix, 24, was most recently with the St. Louis Battlehawks of the XFL. He also spent time on the practice squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins last season.
In five games with St. Louis, Hendrix made four tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one quarterback hurry.
A two-year starter at Pitt after transferring from Tennessee, Hendrix finished his Panthers career with 50 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. He played in 25 games total for Pitt from 2016-18 and made 24 starts.
Hendrix missed the 2016 season with a season-ending ankle injury suffered on the first series of the game. He sat out 2015 at Pitt after playing in seven games with the Volunteers as a true freshman.
At 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, Hendrix played defensive end at Pitt, but could be more suited to be an outside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 scheme. He’s essentially the same height and weight as starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree.