PITTSBURGH -- Right now, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback competition is between Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins, but even when the team adds another option, there's some upside of sticking with familiarity.
Rudolph enters the quarterback competition 5-4-1 as a starter for the Steelers. And even if Haskins has as much or more potential, and a rookie can bring plenty of upside, being here for four years is a positive in Rudolph's case.
"The game experience that I have had, I think I developed from 2019 when I had that stint of games, but anytime you don’t seize the opportunity fully, there’s gonna be question marks," Rudolph said on readiness for the competition. "Playing in games, experience is the best teacher. But being the backup quarterback, I think there’s value in that.
"If you treat it like each game is a opportunity to file things away mentality and to take mental notes and to be in those conversations with coordinators and game plan on the sideline with Coach [Mike] Tomlin about ways to attack defenses, along with the practice reps and the general football I.Q. that you gain and add to your repertoire. I look at that as a positive and that’s how I’ve kept myself encouraged, like, ‘hey, you are going to get a shot to play again at some point and you don’t want to look back and have waisted this time just waiting idly for it. Take strides and make yourself a better quarterback.’”
The first advantage of Rudolph is his experience - even if it wasn't all great.
In 2019, Rudolph complete 62% of his passes for 1,765 yards and 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions, going 5-3 after replacing Roethlisberger.
“We all want to become a better player each and every year," Rudolph said. "When I look back, I’ve watched those game this past offseason just out off sheer boredom, just wanting to go back and dissect myself and ask myself the question, ‘where have I come since those starts in ’19? And how have I improved?’ I think there are things that make me laugh, mistakes I made that I wouldn’t have today. Improvements in my game. My body, physically, and my playing style. But until you get more opportunities to prove yourself, there’s going to be question marks. I’m excited to play this year. That’s all I want is an opportunity to compete and prove myself."
The second advantage will be his chemistry with the wide receivers. Rudolph has spent nearly every Wednesday practice in the last four years working with the first team during practice.
If he is the starter next season, there isn't too much of an adjustment period with his wideouts.
"[Diontae Johnson], Chase [Claypool], Ray-Ray [McCloud], if JuJu [Smith-Schuster] comes back hopefully, I know those guys. We’ve got good relationships off the field. I know what makes them tick to a point," Rudolph said. "Yeah, if I was going to a new team and didn’t have prior established relationships, I think that would be a new thing. But I am comfortable here. I’m comfortable with those guys and I’m looking forward to it."
And finally, his knowledge of Matt Canada's offense.
"I think it was a bit of a mesh this year between some of the things Ben has done for 18 years. Some of the concepts he likes, things he was comfortable with, his playing style, meshed with Matt," Rudolph said. "Knowing Matt, if he returns, I enjoy his offense. I enjoy the jet-motion, the pre-snap. I think it helps us disguise. I know we fell short in a lot of offensive categories and we need to improve. Those decisions are made above my head, but I enjoy Matt. I think we have a good relationship and a good relationship with Coach Sullivan, I enjoy working with those guys and I’m excited to get back to work."
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