As the Pittsburgh Steelers head into training camp, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks. No, it is not Ben Roethlisberger retirement watch. No, we are not watching to see whether or not Ben Roethlisberger is talking to Mason Rudolph. In fact, while quarterback will be a fascinating position this summer, it essentially has nothing to do with Ben Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Questions: How to handle QB snaps in the preseason
The Pittsburgh Steelers now have three backup quarterbacks. Only two are staying. Two of them were drafted in the past two seasons. The other is Landry Jones, the teams long-standing backup. Jones is the most experienced but is the closest to free agency.
It brings in an interesting debate of repetitions. Does the team prepare Landry Jones to be the backup, knowing something could happen to Roethlisberger in regards to his health? Do they prepare Mason Rudolph, knowing he has a chance to surpass Jones in the near future, and maybe a potential successor to Ben Roethlisberger? Of course, they also want to see the progress of Joshua Dobbs from rookie to sophomore, right? How do you split it up?
Last preseason, Ben Roethlisberger threw nine passes. He is going to play at the very least the first quarter of the third preseason game. The third preseason game is known as the dress rehearsal. It is the game in which every starter who can start, will start, as the team looks for uniformity. Aside from that quarter, Roethlisberger does not need to play, and likely will not. It would be one drive at most.
This gives the Pittsburgh Steelers 15 quarters to work with. These are 15 valuable quarters. Quarters in which they can explore their future and see the progression of what is now a young and deep group. How should the Pittsburgh Steelers split these quarters?
Week 1: Philadelphia Eagles
Ben Roethlisberger will not dress for this game. There is almost complete certainty that Landry Jones will also start this game. The question is, how long does Jones play? This could be the Steelers big chance to see what they need to see in Jones. Even last season Josh Dobbs threw 64 passes to 37 of Jones. The Steelers know exactly what they have in Jones now. He can get the start in Week One, with a lot of the starters, and if the Steelers see what they like, it can open up a lot of playing time for the other quarterbacks.
From there, they could split the third and fourth quarter up between Dobbs and Rudolph. It would be a great first impression and view of how these two stack up to each other.
Week 2: Green Bay Packers
Having the comfort of knowing what you have in Landry Jones could come up extremely valuable in week two. It could give the Steelers a chance to rest their top two quarterbacks, and really see what they have in Mason Rudolph.
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Last preseason, Mike Tomlin talked about how excited he was for Joshua Dobbs to not only start a preseason game but play into the third quarter of one of his starts. He talked about how it really shows a players personality to lead a team out onto the field, re-group at halftime, and lead them back out onto that field. Tomlin mentioned how it could speak to in-game growth. Week two is his chance to get that from his new rookie gunslinger.
Rudolph can make his first career start, albeit the preseason. He can play an entire first half, make adjustments in the locker room, and then come out and execute those adjustments in game. This is an extreme litmus test to see where exactly this quarterback stands when the speed turns up from college to the NFL.
Dobbs would likely be able to take over at some point in the third quarter and ride that into the fourth quarter.
Week 3: Tennessee Titans
Ben Roethlisberger will get the first quarter. It would likely make sense to see Landry Jones close out the first half with some of the other starters on the field. Of course, if Mason Rudolph looked extremely sharp in week two, you may want to squeeze in a few snaps with him and the starters.
Still, this is likely a game similar to week one where Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs split the second half.
Week 4: Carolina Panthers
A lot of things are usually decided by week four. Roethlisberger and Jones will not suit up again. Last year, Dobbs got another chance to lead a team out to start a game and it took it into the second half. The question is, does Mason Rudolph get this chance?
This will be the ultimate test for where this team stands on Josh Dobbs. Up until this point, Dobbs has likely played just about three-quarters worth of preseason snaps. Rudolph has only played about five, so how they divvy up these last four will be telling.
It would be extremely beneficial for Mason Rudolph to get three more quarters. A first half and a drive or two in quarter three. If the team has liked what they saw in him in week two, and they truly believe that he was a “first round grade” they have to give him the majority of the game in week four. Getting eight quarters of repetitions, albeit preseason would be extremely beneficial.
Still, that essentially gives off the impression that the team is ready to move on from Joshua Dobbs. On top of that, they never really even gave the second-year quarterback a strong chance this preseason.
You can see how this is going to be an interesting dynamic to watch unfold. 15 quarters feels like a lot of time until you need to make three huge decision on three potential backup quarterbacks. It will be interesting to see if this is the route in which they go to look at their quarterbacks, and just how much a chance Joshua Dobbs is truly going to get. It will be a tight balancing act to get Rudolph acclimated while also maintaining a status with Dobbs.
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