Expectations: Following Sunday's game, an overtime tie against the Detroit Lions, Coach Mike Tomlin said quarterback Mason Rudolph 'gave us a chance to win.'
On Tuesday, during his weekly press conference, he took a deeper dive into dissecting Rudolph's play, who started because Ben Roethlisberger was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.
"He did a good job articulating the offense, communicating with guys," said Tomlin. "The pace in which we desired to work he was able to uphold. We worked fast some, we utilized cadence as a weapon. He is central to that. We got some penalties and got a free five yards and were able to attack them downfield. His use of pace, his ability to communicate, not only in game but between series, and express likes and dislikes and articulate what he saw was acceptable. His reads and distribution of the football was largely what we wanted. He stretched the ball down the field at times and gave us an opportunity to make them not only defend the field horizontally, but vertically.
"If I could be critical of him in any way, I thought he could have been better from a pinpoint accuracy standpoint in some instances, to set up run after and putting the ball in an ideal circumstance so a guy in the flat can win that flat confrontation.
"This is not the first rodeo for him. It's not the first rodeo for him with us. I don't think any of us were surprised by the things that he was able to do for us. As a matter of fact, we expected it. I know he expected it. I think that was his 10th start for us now. We expect that guy to play winning football for us."
It's a snap: One of the issues for the Steelers offense on Sunday against the Lions was shotgun snaps. Rookie center Kendrick Green had several high ones, including one that went over Rudolph's head in overtime, but the Steelers were able to maintain possession although losing costly yardage.
Tomlin said it's simple. The snaps have to be better.
"Green's just got to get the snaps down," said Tomlin. "It doesn't require a meeting. It doesn't require schematic adjustments. Certain things are just fundamental. When you coach and play football at this level sometimes you can make the simple complex, or you get too smart. No, we're just going to ask that guy to snap the ball in a proficient, professional manner and we're going to move on with our life. We're not going to put the quarterback under center and change our personality or approach that way. It requires nothing from Mason. Mason's got a lot of work ahead of him getting ready to play quarterback.
"I think it's reasonable to expect the center to execute shotgun snaps on a consistent basis. He didn't in the last game, and so he's got to recenter his focus and do a good job there this week in preparation. It won't create any additional meetings or planning from us. Just like we expect our guys to tackle better this week and we expect our guys to maintain possession of the ball this week. It won't require any additional meetings or additional points of emphasis. It's steeped in our culture. It's fundamental. And so, we'll go in with that understanding."
Take a look at the best black and white photos from the Week 10 game against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field
Circumstances called for it: With Rudolph at quarterback, the Steelers passed the ball 50 times on Sunday. It's only the second time this season they have thrown the ball 50 times or more, with Roethlisberger attempting 58 passes against Cincinnati in Week 3.
The reason for it was more the situation than the game plan, with overtime creating the scenario as Rudolph threw 12 passes in the additional 10 minutes.
"We played five quarters of football so you're going to have more numbers there," said Tomlin. "You can draw that conclusion however you want to draw it, but we played five quarters of football and so there's going to be some numbers there that are not what you wanted. We also had a featured runner (Najee Harris) that went over 100. But that's what happens when you snap the ball as much as we did and play as much as you did. We had roughly 35 minutes time of possession and so that probably has a lot to do with your line of questions."