The Pittsburgh Steelers picked up a desperately needed victory last night in Los Angeles. They did so behind an opportunistic defense, a solid running game and a well-managed game by their third string quarterback Devlin Hodges. Before I go any further let me get this out of the way. I’ve liked Hodges since he showed up. We at SCB felt like he could easily be the number three quarterback in 2019 thus making Josh Dobbs expendable. But at the same time, I have no illusions about who the quarterback of this team in 2019 is and it’s Mason Rudolph.
Why Not Duck?
How can you not like a guy who is as fearless as ‘Duck’ Devlin is? How can you not like a guy who can call ducks like that (being a duck hunter helps here)? How can you not like a guy who threw for over 14,000 yards in college? Everyone loves Duck and rightfully so because he brings a lot to the table. He throws a very nice ball. He has good zip on it and he moves around very well in the pocket.
Hodges is also very confident and every bit a gamer from everything I’ve seen. The players like him and it’s plain to see they enjoy having him on the field just based on how they react to him. In other words, it’s really hard not to root for this kid who this week will be duck hunting with his father in Canada.
The Reality Though…
Despite not having passed concussion protocol, Mason Rudolph should get through it this week and immediately return to his starting quarterback position. He spent his entire rookie campaign serving as the team’s third quarterback, yet he took more snaps in practice than most third-stringers due to the amount of time off Ben Roethlisberger took. That, combined with an off-season filled with playbook study and working on his overall strength, gives Rudolph an added advantage over Hodges.
Last year at this time Hodges was still taking literally every snap out of the shotgun at Samford. Rudolph’s experience therefore is exactly why he will be under center when Miami comes to town in two weeks. But more than that, Rudolph was just starting to get to the point where Randy Fichtner was OK with him going downfield on his own. Hodges threw downfield last night just twice and one was a poor throw while the other was an interception. Translation: Hodges isn’t quite ready to do everything necessary to be a starting NFL quarterback.
Despite the fact that there’s a decent portion of the Steelers’ fan base that wants to see Duck remain the QB it isn’t going to happen. Rudolph is in a much better position to run the entirety of the offense and has a greater relationship with the receivers than does Hodges. It’s also a matter of basic math too. You don’t spend a third rounder on Rudolph to play him behind an undrafted free agent rookie. Hodges is a terrific fall back plan to have should Rudolph need to be replaced again but as for starting, it’s the Rudy Show from here on out.
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