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Terrible Towel Tales: Can Mason Rudolph guide the sleigh?

Steelers news and commentary Wednesday, December 20

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Welcome to the Terrible Towel Tales, where we’ll highlight some of the latest stories permeating Steelers media for your reading pleasure every Monday through Saturday. In today’s news…

Will Mike Tomlin return to the Steelers in 2024? | Mike Florio, NBC Sports

For the first time since Tomlin became the coach of the team in early 2007, it feels like a divorce is coming. And it’s not that the Steelers would fire Tomlin. If a split occurs, it will happen either because Tomlin wants out — or because another team looking for a new head coach (Commanders, e.g.) calls the Steelers to initiate the process for essentially pulling off a trade.

What would the Steelers want for Tomlin? He’s under contract for one more year. Twenty-one years ago, Jon Gruden was under contract for one more year with the Raiders. And the Buccaneers gave up two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million to get Gruden. (On the defensive staff that Gruden inherited was a young defensive backs coach named Mike Tomlin.)

Can Mason Rudolph change his NFL trajectory despite Steelers’ dim playoff hopes? | Mike DeFabo, The Athletic

Any hope for a late rally falls in the hands of Mason Rudolph, who is expected to start Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I don’t have a crystal ball and the statistics on the percentage chances of making the playoffs, but I know we still have a chance,” Rudolph said. “Winning each of these next three weeks is the only way we’re going to get into the playoffs.”

Don’t worry, Mason. We got you. According to The Athletic’s model, the Steelers have to win out and get help to make the playoffs, as their odds have dropped to 6.3 percent.

Three reasons Mike Tomlin can be blamed for Steelers’ late-season meltdown | Bryan DeArdo, CBS Sports

But there are reasons for Pittsburgh’s current struggles that can be attributed to the head coach. Let’s take a look at those reasons, starting with the most obvious.

1. Retaining Matt Canada

Really, hiring Canada in the first place was a risk. He had never been an offensive coordinator in the NFL prior to Tomlin promoting him in 2021. Pittsburgh’s offense was bad Canada’s first year, but a soon-to-be retiring Ben Roethlisberger was used as the scapegoat.

The offense was just as bad last season, but the team’s 7-2 finish (against pretty light competition) compelled the Steelers’ brass to keep Canada on board. It’s safe to say that they regret that decision.