Posted on September 16, 2019, by Travis Pulver
One of the goals of every NFL team is to find a ‘franchise’ quarterback like the Pittsburgh Steelers have had in Ben Roethlisberger. But there comes a time when teams have to figure out how to live without their franchise quarterbacks.
It may not be time for the Steelers to move on from Roethlisberger, but they are going to have to live without him this season.
Late in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, Roethlisberger grabbed the elbow on his throwing arm after making a pass. He ended up coming out of the game and did not return.
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After the game, the team did not know what the prognosis was for their star quarterback. But it became clear Monday morning when the team announced that he would need season-ending elbow surgery.
The 37-year old Roethlisberger is coming off a season where he led the NFL in passing yards. While he and the Steelers are off to a slow start this year, there has been little doubt about whether they could turn things around.
However, it now appears that completing that task will be up to second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Rudolph took over in the second half and nearly engineered a comeback against the Seahawks but fell short in the end. He ended up completing 12 of 19 pass attempts for 119 yards and two touchdowns with one interception (that deflected off Donte Moncrief’s hands).
Of course, it didn’t help that James Conner struggled to find room in the run game before going down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
After the game, several teammates expressed their confidence in Rudolph in case the team needed him to step in (like they do):
“We like our chances,” guard David DeCastro said, via ESPN. “He’s a guy who cares a lot. That means a lot in this league.”
“He is going to throw the ball and make his reads,” tight end Vance McDonald added. “I think he is very deliberate about that and that is something we can look forward to on offense.”
Rudolph will get a chance to endear himself to Steelers fans in his first start in Week Three. Pittsburgh will be traveling out to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. They haven’t beaten the 49ers on the road since 1999. But Rudolph is confident that he be up to the challenge (ESPN):
“I am completely confident in myself, being a leader of a team, and playing games. That’s what it all comes down to. If that’s the case, I’m ready to roll.”
According to the odds posted at FanDuel, the Steelers are six-point underdogs against the 49ers this week. Their odds of winning the division have dropped to +480. They are now a longshot to win the AFC at +3200 and an even longer shot to win the Super Bowl at +6000.
But if Mason Rudolph can get up to speed, the run game can get on track, and the defense can step up, there may still be value in betting on the Steelers.