On Tuesday it was Mason Rudolph’s turn to take to the podium and answer reporter questions at Organized Team Activities (OTAs). After he was asked if he sees himself as the Steelers next quarterback after Ben Roethlisberger, he answered the question the way anyone should answer it by saying he does see himself as the Steelers’ next guy. Unfortunately, that response sparked anti-Rudolph sentiment across Steelers social media, and brought up the nauseating debate about whether or not Rudolph should be the guy.
Mason Rudolph says it's his goal to be the Steelers' starter in 2022.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) June 8, 2021
"That's my goal, to be a starting quarterback in this league, and for my team."
In my opinion, Mason Rudolph has already done enough to earn the very first start in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. Before I even get to why Rudolph deserves the shot, fans should understand there is no one else better than Rudolph who will become available, and the Steelers won't pay the extreme price for anyone that does. On top of that, the Steelers won't be bad enough to draft a quarterback who can start right away, so even a first round pick would ride the pine for a while.
As for Mason Rudolph, the last number of games he played were his best. Quite simply, he has gotten better with each passing start and I believe he hasn't played his best football yet. He get’s a bad rap for the 2019 season in which the Steelers had just lost Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. On top of that, Ben Roethlisberger took every snap at training camp. The offense was in complete disarray and lacked an identity, it didn't help that Randy Fichtner was in charge of leading the offense.
Just take a look at what Rudolph was able to do in Week 17 of the 2020 season. The Cleveland Browns were fighting for a playoff spot and the Steelers were resting players. With a less than full powered offense, which already didn't have a running game, the Steelers very nearly knocked off the Browns. Rudolph put up 315 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the day, and he did it with some of the prettiest deep balls we saw throughout the 2020 season.
By no means am I saying Rudolph will be a Top 10 quarterback in this league, but we are in a weird era where any time a quarterback’s contract is up they demand to become the highest paid player in the league. This mindset crushed the Rams and forced them to deal Jared Goff for Matt Stafford. Having a cheap, average quarterback could allow the Steelers to load up their roster, and try to win a title that way. If he fails, the Steelers can go another way without financial repercussions.
But what do you think? Will Mason Rudolph get the first start following Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement? Tell why or why not in the comments below.