Quarterback Saga In The Steel City

February 14, 2022

For 18 years the Quarterback position for the Pittsburgh Steelers has not been not up for debate, now there is a Steelers Quarterback Saga. Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers for his entire career and provided many high points. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and Roethlisberger decided that it was time to call it quits. After a final season battling behind an inept offensive line, nobody can blame him for walking away and finally not having to worry about grown men throwing him to the dirt….well hopefully not anyway. 

Despite the numerous injuries throughout his career, there was never any real doubt about Roethlisberger would always come back. Steelers fans have only had to endure backup Quarterbacks on the odd occasion. Thankfully, given that the backups haven’t exactly been setting the heather alight. Tommy Maddox, Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich, Michael Vick, Devlin Hodges, and the most recent backup Mason Rudolph. Michael Vick was good in his day but like all the other Quarterbacks listed above, he was never a serious contender to knock Roethlisberger off his pedestal.

So, who will come out of the Steelers Quarterback saga and lead the Pittsburgh Steelers? Are they already in the building? Will it be a veteran in the league or will it be a young player coming out of College? Whatever happens in Pittsburgh it is a decision that they haven’t had to make since the end of the 2003 season.

Steelers Quarterback Saga

Mason Rudolph

steelers quarterback saga
Nov 14, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Since they drafted him in the third round of the 2018 draft, Mason Rudolph hasn’t had much opportunity. In the time that he has played, he hasn’t filled minds with confidence. He first got his opportunity in the 2019 season when Roethlisberger went down injured in Week 2. This was a real opportunity for the Steelers to see what they had in the Oklahoma State alumni.

Despite getting his chance he was only able to lead the Steelers to a 5-3 record and was dropped for Devlin “Duck” Hodges. From this moment Steelers fans had made their decision on Rudolph. If he can’t even beat out a duck then how is he supposed to be the Quarterback of the future? 

2019 had plenty of drama for Mason Rudolph as well. In a later season game against the Cleveland Browns Rudolph ended up in an altercation with Myles Garrett. Garrett ripped the helmet off Rudolph and hit him over the head with it. An incident that angered Steelers fans but what probably angered them more is the fact that Rudolph lost to a divisional rival. 

Since the 2019 season, Rudolph has started two games for the Steelers. One was another loss to the Cleveland Browns at the end of the 2020 season and one was a tie against the worst team in football in 2021 the Detroit Lions.

In his career as a starter for the Steelers, he has a record of 5-4-1. He has 16 touchdowns to eleven interceptions and quite frankly is a mediocre backup and certainly not the next franchise Quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dwayne Haskins

Before coming out of college, Dwayne Haskins once beat out Joe Burrow to the starting job at Ohio State. That feels like a long time ago. Since he has entered the NFL there has been more off-field drama for the Quarterback than there has been good quarterback play. Haskins hasn’t started a game for the Steelers since he was picked up but as a member of the Washington Football Team, he went 3-10 as a starter.

Unless there have been some dramatic changes in his play since he moved to Pittsburgh I don’t see him leaping to starter for a team that expects to be winning Super Bowls.

Veteran Options

A New Number Twelve?

steelers quarterback saga
Courtesy of USA Today.

Ever since their Week Four match against the Green Bay Packers, the Steelers have been linked with Aaron Rodgers. Whether it was the wink to Mike Tomlin when he tried to catch the Steelers defense with too many players on the field or the weekly conversations with Pittsburgh native Pat McAfee on his YouTube show there is certainly a rumor going around that he could be the next Quarterback in the Steel City.

Needless to say, Rodgers would be a great addition to the Steelers. Any “Yinz” that says otherwise is wrong. Rodgers has dominated the NFL in terms of Quarterback play for the last few years and has his team either there or thereabouts every year. He is the most talented quarterback to ever play the game. With him at the helm of the offense and the Steelers’ defense they would be in with a great chance of challenging for Super Bowls once again.

Whether or not he leaves Green Bay is another argument. Yes, there has been some open debate about the situation up there but would he want to leave a division that he has dominated and is pretty much guaranteed a playoff berth every year. The AFC North would not be as easy for him as the NFC North. Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson have shown that they are capable of beating anyone (well except for Jackson being unable to beat Big Ben) and winning their division. Justin Fields, Jared Goff ad Kirk Cousins don’t offer the same threat.

If Rodgers makes the switch to the black and gold they will instantly become a real contender in the AFC. A scenario that Steelers fans will love but one that might just be out of reach for the organization.

If the Steelers decide to pull the trigger on a veteran then Rodgers is the only real option. Jimmy Garoppolo, Tyrod Taylor, Mitchell Trubisky, and even Cam Newton wouldn’t add much to this organization. They certainly wouldn’t make them instant challengers in an extremely competitive AFC.

Local Gunslinger

Who better to lead the Steelers into the future than a local Quarterback who knows what it is like to play at Heinz Feild throughout his college career. Kenny Pickett led the Panthers to one of their best seasons in recent years and played extremely well at the position. He is used to being around Heinz Feild and has been around the Steelers players for the last year. It is almost the perfect situation for a young QB coming into the league. Even if he does have small hands.

This offseason is one of the biggest in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They still have a defense that can compete against any of them and young wide receivers who can produce. Not to mention one of the best runnings backs of the future, and a tight end who is a red zone threat. Solving the Steelers Quarterback saga is vitally important to the continued success of this franchise.