Dunlap: Jones and Rudolph need to have true battle for backup QB

Backup QB job should be wide open

Colin Dunlap
July 25, 2018 - 2:21 pm

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Players are reporting to St. Vincent today. 

You know the drill by now. Fancy cars, dragging in big televisions, lugging in bed sheets, Antonio Brown is showing up in a helicopter or whatever while some down-the-liner undrafted kid from Northern Somewhere Tech State is still pimping his college wheels. 

Anyway, those players showing up and hauling their stuff into the dorms marks the official start of football season for me. It’s a big day each season. The media gathers, the rich players try to outdo each other and the pads will be a-crackin’ very soon. 

HERE WE GO!

With all of that, the storylines start to surface. 

Some make a ton of sense, some are just nonsense and some aren’t talked about enough. 

You know one that, I think, too many people are getting wrong? To me, there are far too many in the media simply handing the backup quarterback spot to incumbent Landry Jones and, by extension, giving rookie third-round pick Mason Rudolph not much of a shot to be Ben Roethlisberger’s primary understudy. 

Why is this so? 

I’m not knocking Landry Jones as a guy or even as a quarterback, but what has he done to have a spot firmly solidified? He has started exactly five games in his NFL career, a couple of them coming in those end-of-season games when Roethlisberger was benched and told to get ready for the playoffs. 

Has he wowed you? Has he blown you away? Are you that darn impressed? 

All this said, it has also been reported that Rudolph had a first-round grade by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ brass and when he fell all the way to the third round, the organization couldn’t help but take him and felt as if they got a steal. 

So why shouldn’t a guy who had a first-round grade be given the opportunity to fight --- straight up --- for the backup role? Especially when it isn’t as if the backup with the Steelers is named Batch or Gradkowski or someone of that ilk who had been a regular starter in the NFL before. This is something I don’t understand. 

Granted, I get that Jones has a leg-up because he knows the organization and the offense. And while there might not be a huge change in philosophy, there is a change in the offensive coordinator as Randy Fichtner will begin his first season leading the unit. 

With that, isn’t it the right time --- if there ever was one --- to do a deep evaluation? Wouldn’t now be the best opportunity to have a true battle between Jones and Rudolph? I think it would be. 

Look, I’m not saying Mason Rudolph should walk into Latrobe and be handed any job. That isn’t how it works and shouldn’t be how it works. 

But it seems like the organization has designs on him, perhaps, being the quarterback of the future. 

If that’s the case --- or heck even if that really isn’t the case --- I feel like the best plan is to have a true battle, a 50/50 breakdown in backup snaps between Rudolph and Jones in camp. Tell both of them going in what’s going down. And on the other side of it, whoever is better is Ben’s backup. 

This notion being pushed forward by too many in the media that Jones should be, undeniably the backup, is a head-scratcher to me.