Ben Roethlisberger weighs in on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ biggest question of the week and season. Who should start Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks – Kenny Pickett or Mason Rudolph?
For Roethlisberger, the answer is clear. Mason Rudolph. He got the job done in style against the Cincinnati Bengals and he should have a chance to come out on top in another must-win game this weekend.
On the latest edition of his Footbahlin podcast, Roethlisberger was asked by his co-host Spence who should get the nod. Without missing a beat, Roethlisberger said it should be Rudolph.
“I think you’re going with Mason,” Roethlisberger said. “Look, Kenny is your future. Kenny is your man. I think you need to protect him a little too. Obviously. you’d love to get him on the field and play, but if he’s not 100%, why not try Mason? What he did this week, 34 points. He threw for 200, almost 300 yards. That seemed to kind of put a little spark into the team. I would stay with him for another week.
Rudolph provided not only a spark, but production that the Steelers haven’t seen over the last couple of years. He finished the game with 290 yards and two touchdowns, a great game doing everything Pittsburgh was looking for from that position. Rudolph made the big plays, hitting WR George Pickens for touchdowns of 66 and 86 yards, while balancing that by taking care of the football. He didn’t turn the ball over and made almost no negative plays outside of two slot misses against WR Calvin Austin III and Diontae Johnson, neither of which proved too damaging for the team.
Throughout the podcast, Roethlisberger praised the work Rudolph has done, especially since the last time he started a game was in place of Roethlisberger during the 2021 season.
“I thought it was a career day for Mason. He’s probably been waiting for this day his whole life. I mean, that’s what he expected. So I thought it was good.
The Steelers’ third-string quarterback for the past two seasons, he bided his time behind Mitch Trubisky and Pickett. After the game, Rudolph admitted he wasn’t sure if he would ever play football again. And a poor performance on Saturday likely would have been the last opportunity of his NFL career. But he made the most of it, moving from third overall to a legitimate conversation about who will start in Week 17. Pickett still hasn’t fully practiced since injuring his ankle in early December, but he was about to be medically cleared next week. .
Rudolph got the offense going on his literal first attempt, hitting WR George Pickens on a slant that he ran to the end zone for an 86-yard touchdown. While it’s not the most difficult throw, Roethlisberger said it’s the type of play quarterbacks love to create.
“If your guy can run an incline better than his guy can cover it, he’s going to catch up and run. If you throw him a good ball, which Mason did, he can catch it in stride…you can’t ask for a better start for Mason.
Rudolph had the type of performance at quarterback that fans haven’t seen since Roethlisberger. So far, Mike Tomlin has not indicated which direction he is leaning. It’s hard to ignore what Rudolph has done, but Pickett is their supposed franchise quarterback. Turning away from him in a must-win game will create questions that will linger into the offseason, no matter what Rudolph does or doesn’t do.
Still, the Steelers are in win-now mode. Their most likely path to the playoffs is winning their final two games against Seattle, followed by Baltimore, two talented teams and two tough fields to play in. Roethlisberger acknowledged that Rudolph’s success in this game doesn’t guarantee he moves forward, but thinks he’s right. option for the here and now.
“I just think you stick with him and give him another chance,” Roethlisberger said. “So that’s how I would lean. It’s just my opinion.
Most fans tend to agree and hope Rudolph gets another start. Tomlin will hold a press conference tomorrow at noon and could shed some light on his decision, although he might hesitate and note that Pickett must prove he is still fully healthy. If that’s the case, Tomlin has to decide which quarterback gives him the best chance.
Check out the full episode below.
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