Mason Rudolph returned for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their victory over Miami on Monday Night Football. However, he didn’t make the splash that many expected.
Rudolph struggled early and was flat out awful at times. Eventually, the rust wore off and his confidence rose after a perfectly placed pass connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster for 34 yards down the sideline. They overcame a 14-0 deficit by scoring 27 unanswered points to improve to 3-4 in 2019.
Now the Steelers welcome Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts to Heinz Field, still in desperate need of a win to compete for a playoff spot.
What Indianapolis has done this season is pretty remarkable, considering their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck shocked the football world with his sudden retirement from football.
However, Indianapolis has been more than capable on the other side of the ball as well. Here is how the Indianapolis defense matches up with Pittsburgh’s offense on paper.
|Steelers Offense||Colts Defense|
21.4 Points-per-game (19th)
21.6 Points-per-game against (14th)
293.3 Total yards-per-game (28th)
349.4 Total yards-per-game against (15th)
88.1 Rushing yards-per-game (24th)
111.3 Rushing yards-per-game against (20th)
205.1 Passing yards-per-game (26th)
238.1 Passing yards-per-game against (15th)
9 Turnovers (6 INT/3 fumbles) (T-13th)
7 Takeaways (4 INT/3 fumbles) (T-26th)
7 sacks allowed (1st)
19 sacks (T-16th)
37% 3rd down conversion (22nd)
39% 3rd down conversion against (16th)
The Colts are the definition of team defense. They don’t have many players that stand out as superstars on defense, but they play very well collectively.
They don’t make a lot of mistakes and they tackle very well. They’re not the best at any statistical category, but there isn’t a glaring weakness in their defense either.
The biggest key for Mason Rudolph and the offense will be to limit the mistakes and maintain possession of the ball.
If the Steelers can exploit the Indianapolis defense in any way, it will have to be on the ground. Unfortunately, James Conner’s status is still up in the air while he recovers from a shoulder injury suffered against Miami.
The game might have to be thrown into the hands of Rudolph if Conner can’t go. While Indianapolis hasn’t forced many turnovers this season, they are more than capable of capitalizing on mistakes.
Mason Rudolph may be more comfortable this week now that he’s gotten his first action since his concussion out of the way. Like we’ve talked about many times on this site, we know that Rudolph has the tools to be an NFL quarterback. The question is can he put everything together. Having Ben Roethlisberger in your ear sure is helpful as well.
Conner’s health will determine just how much of a chance Pittsburgh has in this game. Jaylen Samuels will return this week, which couldn’t come at a more convenient time. Samuels is a solid back, but Conner has carried the load for the offense all season.
Indianapolis’ defense will be ready for either running back come Sunday afternoon. It will be up to the coaching staff to put together a proper gameplan for whichever players are available. This won’t be an easy test for Pittsburgh.