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Mack: Stop The Ducking Nonsense

QB Job Is Rudolph's Now That He's Healthy

Chris Mack
October 17, 2019 - 10:45 am


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Stop quacking.

Stop sharing photos of the "I'm the Boss" t-shirt.

Stop trying to find reasons that Devlin Hodges should start over a healthy Mason Rudolph next Monday night.

Stop the ducking nonsense.

Rudolph has cleared concussion protocol and will be the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting quarterback against the Miami Dolphins. As he should be. 

I know, I know. You're all fired up and ready to grow out a Duck Dynasty beard and wear a #3 Hodges jersey for Halloween. It's all really cute.

But it doesn't give the Steelers a better chance of winning. Their best chance of winning still revolves around an offense with Rudolph at quarterback. 

If you're one of the few grasping at straws for lines of logic or reasoning as to why Hodges should start over a healthy Rudolph, allow me to blow them up for you now so you can join the rest of us back in reality.

First and foremost, Rudolph has cleared concussion protocol. If he hadn't, I'd be on board with "resting" him, or otherwise waiting for an independent neurologist to clear him for contact. There is no "degree" of being cleared, though. Once you're good to go, you're good to go. Allowing a player who can help you win a game to sit on the sidelines despite being deemed healthy enough to play is no less derelict of duty than the circus of letting Ben Roethlisberger sit on the sideline in Oakland last fall when he was ready to re-enter the game. 

Speaking of Roethlisberger, the theory that the offense needs to be pared back because of Rudolph's inexperience, and the analogy drawn by many to Ben's rookie year and the halving of then-Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt's play book enabling Ben's success at the time flies in the face of one important fact: Rudolph isn't a rookie. A first year starter, sure. But he's not unfamiliar with the offense.

"It's a completely different scenario than when Ben took over," said Bill Cowher on Thursday morning. 

"Ben was a guy that was just learning the system and was in there as the third string quarterback and due to injuries was pushed up to number two, but really not ready to be number two."

Related: Bill Cowher Joins The Fan Morning Show

Cowher, who was Roethlisberger's head coach during that 2004 season, looks at Rudolph differently. 

"Number one, (Rudolph's) a full year in to the system, a full off-season in to the system, and comes in to the season as the back-up quarterback. All of a sudden there's another level of confidence."

Which brings us to the proverbial proof in the pudding. The numbers.

Rudolph has thrown just two interceptions to seven touchdowns in his first 94 attempts. That ties him with some guy named Russell Wilson for the best touchdown percentage in the NFL at 7.4%. Only Wilson, Kyle Allen, and Patrick Mahomes have thrown fewer interceptions in as many attempts. 

If touchdowns and interceptions don't do it for you, let's roll up what Rudolph's done in one big ball of wax. It's called QB Rating, and Rudolph is currently 8th in the NFL through six weeks with a rating of 102.5.

If you're someone who's still somehow claiming that what Rudolph's done isn't good enough, perhaps you could look at the play calling of the offensive coordinator. Better yet, ask yourself where the Steelers would be in the standings if not for a fumble by James Conner in San Francisco and another by JuJu Smith-Schuster against Baltimore. The likely answer is 4-2 and on a four game winning that would have commenced with - you guessed it - Rudolph's first start at quarterback.

I get it, I really do. Devlin Hodges is fun. His nickname is cute. And in Pittsburgh, the back-up quarterback is always the most popular guy in town.

The starting job, though, belongs to Mason Rudolph.