Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Coming into their preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph was given the opportunity to start. Considering the competitive battle for the backup position between him and teammate Joshua Dobbs, it was imperative for Rudolph to make his opportunities count.
In the second quarter of the game, Rudolph engineered an impressive touchdown drive that lasted nearly 8 minutes. During this drive, he systematically broke down the Chiefs with a series of effective passes Throughout the sequence, he displayed improved poise and patience in the pocket. This off-season, Rudolph dedicated much of his time developing his overall game; this drive was proof that his work is paying dividends.
Third-Down Completion To James Washington
Following a holding penalty and a short gain by running back Jaylen Samuels, Rudolph and his offense were facing 3rd and 11. The Steelers in sequence is showing a 11 package (a running back, a tight end, and 3 receivers). The focus in this sequence is James Washington, seen lined up on the 'Z' spot on right side. When the ball is snapped, Rudolph quickly goes through his progressions and finds Washington on the slant route inside for a 22-yard gain.
Third-Down Completion To Grimble
Facing yet another 3rd-and-11, the Steelers offense is showing the same personnel package as in the previous sequence. The Chiefs in this case are showing two cornerbacks seemingly in press coverage on the left side. Yet when the ball is snapped, #27 on the Chiefs defense blitzes inside. Rookie running back Benny Snell Jr. steps up to protect Rudolph, but the cornerback in this case is able to slip past him to get pressure on Rudolph. Even with the pressure, Rudolph did a great job showing poise and completing a pass to tight end Xavier Grimble for a 13-yard gain and another first down.
Completion To Benny Snell Jr.
Following a 3-yard gain by Snell Jr., the Steelers offense found themselves close to the red zone territory. The offense is once again showing a 11 package, with the receivers aligned on in trips formation on the left side. Note prior to the snap, Rudolph focuses his attention on the left side, likely as a means of throwing off the Chiefs linebackers. When the ball is snapped, Rudolph displays patience in the pocket as he goes through his progressions. He soon finds Snell Jr. on the delay route for an important 6-yard gain.
Completion To Diontae Johnson
The Steelers offense in this sequence is showing a 11 personnel package, with their receivers positioned in the slot and 'Z' spots. The Chiefs defense in this case has loaded the front, showing a potential full-house blitz. When the ball is snapped, receiver Eli Rogers will come off the line and play a decoy-type role. Rudolph finds rookie receiver Diontae Johnson on the delayed slant route and find enough room to gain 8 yards, placing them in the Chiefs' redzone. This would be the final pass of this drive.
Samuels' 14-yard touchdown run would cap off a successful drive which started at their own 11-yard line. Throughout this drive, Rudolph did not do anything complex; he made smart decisions and the made the right passes at the right time. If there were any questions about the backup quarterback spot, this entire sequence may have placed him ahead of Dobbs. Even if this not the case, Rudolph continues to show tremendous growth from his rookie season.