PITTSBURGH (KDKA)- Following a 24-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, in which the defense forced five turnovers, the Steelers are 0-3 and looking for answers.
The injury to starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hurt, but the team believed in backup Mason Rudolph’s ability to take the reins and lead the team to a win. Rudolph wasn’t bad by any stretch in his first start, throwing for 174 yards and two touchdowns. But, there were certainly points to improve upon, namely his completion percentage (51.5%) and avoiding turnovers (interception).READ MORE: Police Investigating After Woman Killed, Man Injured In Kennedy Twp. Shooting
Still, all things considered, against a pretty good San Francisco defense, Rudolph seems to have acquitted himself well enough. But the ultimate goal of a victory was not reached. How does he do that in his second start this Monday against the Cincinnati Bengals? According to Inside the NFL analyst Brandon Marshall, the quarterback needs to put more faith in his receivers’ ability to snatch the ball away from defenders.
“Whenever you have a young quarterback, you really need to rely on two things. You need to rely on your running game and also, you need to rely on your number-one receiver,” said Marshall. “When it’s one on one, get the ball to your receiver. Take the guess work out of it. One on one, get him the ball, nine-yard stop routes, slants, back-shoulder go balls. Keep it simple.”READ MORE: Man Dies After Being Struck By Vehicle Near Heinz Field On North Shore
The number-one receiver, in this case, is JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was targeted a team-high seven times on Sunday against San Francisco. However, Rudolph did spread the ball around quite a bit, with Diontae Johnson, James Conner and James Washington receiving six, five and four targets respectively.
In addition, as Marshall points out, the Steelers’ running game needs to be more productive than it was Sunday, with the team totaling 79 yards and 3.6 yards per carry.
If the Steelers are to follow in the Houston Texans’ footsteps from last season and go from 0-3 to a playoff berth, Rudolph’s play will certainly have to continue to progress.
The Steelers and Bengals wrap up Week 4 of the NFL when they kick off on Monday, September 30th at 8:15 p.m. Eastern Time.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Weather: Cool Temperatures, Sunny Sunday
You can catch Brandon Marshall along with Ray Lewis, Phil Simms and host James Brown when Inside The NFL airs tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Showtime.