After passing on veteran backup QBs, Steelers could be doomed if Ben Roethlisberger misses time in 2020

The Pittsburgh Steelers are aiming to be the NFL’s top defense in 2020, and they’ll also be getting their franchise quarterback, six-time Pro Bowler Ben Roethlisberger, back from injury. But what if Big Ben goes down again? What if, for the fifth time in six years, Roethlisberger is unable to play a full season?

CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson is sure of one thing: They won’t be able to repeat their scrappy success of 2019.

“I ain’t expecting miracles from Mason Rudolph,” Wilson said on Monday’s Pick Six Podcast (it’s daily NFL goodness, listen below and subscribe here) referring to the Steelers’ backup QB. “I am concerned if Big Ben does, in fact, get hurt or isn’t able to play because, look, it ain’t gonna be 8-8 again. That lightning ain’t gonna strike twice.”

Wilson said he’s fairly confident Roethlisberger will be back to full form upon recovery from shoulder surgery, but he didn’t make excuses for Rudolph’s overall performance as Pittsburgh’s primary fill-in during the 2019 campaign.

“At the end of the day, he was terrible, let’s be honest,” Wilson said. “I would’ve preferred Marcus Mariota to sign this offseason … Even cheaper: Jameis Winston. Even cheaper still: Cam Newton. Clearly Mariota and Winston were happy to be backups; I don’t think Cam necessarily wants to do that … But they are invested in Mason Rudolph (regardless).”

CBS Sports’ John Breech echoed Wilson’s concerns, suggesting the Steelers should’ve considered bumping Rudolph down the depth chart in favor of former rival Andy Dalton as Roethlisberger’s No. 2.

“You want a good backup in place,” Breech said. “If the Steelers would’ve had a competent backup quarterback last season, they would’ve been a playoff team. Like, a no-brainer playoff team.”

A third-round draft pick of the Steelers in 2018, Rudolph started eight games for Pittsburgh as a second-year pro, throwing 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions in between a concussion and demotion in favor of undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges. Roethlisberger, on the other hand, topped 5,000 passing yards and 30 TDs in 2018 but has missed at least one start in four of the last five years.

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