Consider this an emergency edition of the Musings. Well, as emergency as a sports column can be.
What a whirlwind of a couple of days in Steelers Country. First, the Big Ben season-ending elbow injury and immediate transfer of power to Mason Rudolph who has already been anointed by some as the answer to all hopes for consecutive quarterbacking legends.
Pump the brakes. Let the guy start an NFL game. His body of work includes a good half against Seattle and a bunch of decent preseason games. Even in Ben’s rookie year, when he too was unexpectedly handed the keys to the Maserati, the Steelers protected him with a very good running game and a limited playbook.
It worked in 2004 – the Steelers finished 15-1 and lost to the, I hate saying this, New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game at Heinz Field, Big Ben’s career was launched and the Steelers never looked back.
Those are unrealistic expectations for Rudolph. Big Mason, wait, that doesn’t work, Magic Mason, no, that is so corny, Mighty Mason? Magnificent Mason? Mini-Ben Mason? Clearly no discussion of Rudolph’s quarterback play can ensue without a proper, alliterative nickname, but you get the point – Rudolph is not a Big Ben clone, and should be judged separately.
The Steelers’ run game is also a mess. If the plan is to lean in to James Conner, Jaylen Samuels and Bennie Snell, a plan-B should be developed. The pass-happy Steelers have seemingly forgotten how to run the ball as the primary means of ball control which could put too much pressure on Rudolph to perform.
It’s not all gloom and doom. Rudolph can make throws. He reminds me of a taller Drew Brees. Accurate with mediocre arm strength. Brees is an all-time great and Rudolph is a rookie who’s done nothing, so the comparisons stop at the physical, but I like Rudolph’s pocket presence from what I’ve seen.
Hopefully, Rudolph can find a way to manage games while learning and improving. I don’t think it’s necessarily a death sentence for the 2019 Steelers, but Big Ben’s injury has sure made it a whole lot more interesting.
- I don’t like the trade the Steelers made on Monday for Miami safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
I freaking love it.
Did the Steelers really just do that? The normally conservative Steelers made a bold, in-season move to acquire a quality, young player at a position of desperate need? Kudos to the Steelers for going out and getting Fitzpatrick. I really don’t care if he comes in and lights it up, or if he somehow morphs into a DB who, like seemingly all other Steelers’ DBs, cannot cover, misses tackles and is a liability in the secondary, I just love the boldness of the move. I am betting on Fitzpatrick lighting it up, though, and providing the Steelers with a coverage and ball hawking solution they have been desperately missing. Plenty of NFL teams have won plenty of games with a good quarterback and a shut-down defense. Why can’t the Steelers?
- Pat Narduzzi pulled the old, “I know more about football than you idiots who think I made the wrong call,” card out in his pathetic defense of his decision to try a field goal on fourth and goal from the Penn State 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s 17-10 Pitt loss. Save it. The decision was not only bad, it was wrong. Just another piece in a growing body of evidence that Pat Narduzzi just simply will never get Pitt to the next level. Why can’t anybody in sports ever just admit a mistake? I guess this tells Pitt fans that the next time the Panthers trail by 7 late in a game, and they have the same situation, Narduzzi will trot his kicker out so that Pitt loses by 4 instead of 7? How comforting.