The Pittsburgh Steelers have a dilemma at quarterback for the first time in nearly 20 years. With 18-year veteran Ben Roethlisberger hanging up the cleats this off-season, the quest to find the next signal-caller has already begun. Trade rumors for top veteran options have mentioned the Steelers, who have also been considered likely to sign some of the top free-agent options. They could even draft a quarterback from this year’s draft class. One of the options that is very plausible (and rarely talked about) is the fact someone who is already on their active roster could wind up the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback.
Starting 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback: Already on the Roster?
The Steelers currently have three quarterbacks on their active roster or the I.R.: Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins, and Josh Dobbs. Rudolph and Haskins are expected to battle each other for the starting role next summer and preseason. Both have at least one year of NFL experience under their belt, but neither has shown anything great. Josh Dobbs has not had any major pro experience but he brings many other intangibles to the field. He is a smart, young, and mobile quarterback who can make great reads. Unfortunately, he, Haskins, and Rudolph all have plenty of downside.
All three candidates have shown flashes of starting-caliber play throughout their careers. They all have developed skills that, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in the NFL. That said, none of the three of them seem ready to take on the role of starting quarterback. Each player has potential rewards and risks, and it is important to look into them so the quarterback can be understood in all aspects of play.
Insight About the Three Options
Rudolph makes the best case for the starting job. After Big Ben went down with an arm injury early in 2019, Rudolph was the starter in eight games. He dealt with some injuries and a suspension for an incident during the season but still led the Steelers to a 5-3 record in his eight games. Over that span, he threw for just 13 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He doesn’t boast the greatest statistics, but he can still win some games with a good supporting cast.
Rudolph was drafted in the third round (76th overall) in 2018. He went to Oklahoma State, where he threw for 92 touchdowns in four years. His senior year, he threw for an exceptional 37 touchdowns to nine interceptions while completing 65 percent of his passes. He was a confident pocket passer at Oklahoma State with impressive accuracy on medium- and deep-range passes.
In his two appearances this season, Rudolph had two mediocre performances. In his first game, Rudolph struggled with accuracy on shorter passes against a lowly Detroit Lions defense. As the game progressed, he settled in and delivered some nice throws. In his second appearance, Rudolph completed five passes on eight attempts for 35 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs. He was hitting on short throws, but it still seemed like he had a long way to go.
If Rudolph can show flashes of his old college self, he could become a viable quarterback. But he has struggled in his limited time with Pittsburgh and seems to have had a hard time adapting to the pros.
Dwayne Haskins certainly still has a shot at being the Steelers quarterback next year. Earlier this week, Pittsburgh tendered him a $2.5 million contract, indicating that the Steelers still want him on the team in 2022. The fact he is still on the roster and will be kept shows the coaching staff and front office have enough confidence in Haskins to possibly be a starter.
Haskins is entering his third year in the NFL, as he was drafted in 2019 by the Washington Football Team. He started 13 games over two seasons with Washington, throwing a measly 12 touchdowns to 14 interceptions in those games. The Ohio State alumnus has a long way to go, but the Steelers apparently see something in Haskins. It also does not help that Haskins is 3-10 in the games he’s started. In fact, Washington had a better defense during his tenure, which, in turn, places more of the blame on him.
He was cut from Washington in the latter part of the 2020 season. He had some off-the-field issues, including violating team conduct policies and COVID-19 protocols. His problems seem to have subsided; hopefully, it can stay that way.
In 2019 at Ohio State, Haskins threw for 50 touchdowns, compared to just eight interceptions. He was a mobile gunslinger and had tremendous deep-ball accuracy. If he, like Rudolph, can return to his college form, he could be a real danger for years to come.
Joshua Dobbs is currently on the Injured Reserve after he suffered a season-ending toe injury during the preseason. He was likely going to wind up on the practice squad (fourth string) quarterback in 2021, but his season was cut short. Dobbs is a smart, fast option who makes good reads; the only downside is his arm strength. He is not a terrible passer, but he could work on his arm to develop himself as a more confident passer.
Dobbs started at Tennessee for two years. He threw for 42 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016 combined. Even though he wasn’t a dynamic passer, he was still great on the ground. Dobbs rushed for 671 yards and 831 yards in those same two seasons. He also rushed for 23 touchdowns over those years (11 in 2015, 12 in 2016). He is an elusive rusher who can break tackles and absorb contact.
Dobbs certainly is one of the long-shots for the starting role in 2022, but fans and coaches cannot simply ignore him. He seems like a great fit for Matt Canada’s offense, but his passing skills are still in question. Even if he doesn’t win the starting role, he is a very smart individual who is like a coach to many of the players. He graduated with an Aerospace Engineering degree and is considered to be one of the most intelligent professional football players. If he can put some work in and mold himself into a stronger passer, he will have a shot at becoming the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback.
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