Mason Rudolph Praise Won't Go Higher Than 'Baby Steps'
"I think it was his best game of consistently making decisions and putting the ball in proper spots," Randy Fichtner described Mason Rudolph's Week 10 performance. "So that lead to opportunities down the field and did a nice job with it. Put balls in places where we could catch them."
He's getting better. Week-by-week, Mason Rudolph makes throws that were better than his last. He makes fewer mistakes and looks more confident. A constantly growing progression that everyone on the outside can see, but his offensive coordinator may not be satisfied with.
Fichtner continues to describe Rudolph's development as 'baby steps'. No matter how many games the Steelers win, or how much better Rudolph's play gets, he has yet to receive any real praise from his OC.
"Well, it’s baby steps," Fichtner said. "Again, a couple weeks here at home. I think that you can see a little momentum going for him just in breaking the huddle. Just in the simple things that you take for granted, but the confidence of pushing that group in any situation. Backed up, going in, all those types of situations. You know, you see the growth every day.
Rudolph went 22/38 for 243 yards and a touchdown against a Rams defense expected to control the game much more than it did. Over the last five games, Rudolph's passer rating has been 95.1, and he's thrown only two interceptions.
It's a very noticeable progression Rudolph is making. The second-year quarterback is settling into his role as the unexpected starter, and with every snap, he feels it coming more into place.
"Yeah, I think with every game, with every rep you get more comfortable," Mason Rudolph described his improvement. "Experience is the best teacher. That is where we are. There are a lot of guys that are hungry to get every rep they can. Guys in the receiver group, guys that are stepping up for us like Tony [Brooks-James] in the running game. It is a collective group."
But until Fichtner's praise exceeds Rudolph's baby steps, there's still a concern this offense can be more, that maybe it isn't the receivers' drops or the lack of running game. It looks like the quarterback is starting to be the most promising part of an injury-ridden offense, but with a young and developing quarterback, we don't know how much better this offense could be through 10 weeks.
It's nothing too alarming as the team continues to win, but certainly, something to keep an eye on. The Steelers offense will work James Conner back into the mix against the Cleveland Browns, which should be a boost for the run game.
This is Rudolph's first short week, though. This could be the most trouble-some appearance he has this season, heading into Thursday with three days of preparation. It could also be a defining game.
Don't rule out a quarterback that's done enough to win his last four games. Thursday night in Cleveland could show Fichtner what he's been looking for. But until it happens, praise Mason Rudolph with a side of caution.