fbpx

How Dwayne Haskins’ uninspiring Hall of Fame Game impacts Pittsburgh Steelers’ QB battle

Although he received plenty of playing time in the 2021 Hall of Fame Game, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins underwhelmed.

CANTON, Ohio — The Pittsburgh Steelers got a look at what life might look like without Ben Roethlisberger if he retires in 2022 or gets hurt again this year. And it was not pretty. Mason Rudolph got the start against the Dallas Cowboys and was fine, but not great. Rudolph’s performance in the Hall of Fame Game presented an opportunity for Dwayne Haskins to make a real play for the Steelers’ backup QB job.

Dwayne Haskins’ Hall of Fame Game performance

Haskins was even more meh than Rudolph — a disappointing development for the former first-round pick looking for a career renaissance in Western Pennsylvania.

He has been strong in training camp based on local reporting, and the Ohio State product talked confidently about making a run for the No. 2 job in the days leading up to the game. Haskins could have used a bit more of that moxie between the hashes on Thursday [August 5].

Instead, he consistently threw short of the sticks and hardly ever looked downfield against a bunch of second-string defenders.

The third-year signal-caller struggled to inspire confidence

Haskins, who washed out of Washington before his second season even ended, went 8-of-13 for 54 yards. Furthermore, his longest pass was 15 yards. His average yards per attempt (4.2) would have been good if he was running the ball, not throwing it.

And what is even more alarming is that he didn’t convert a single third down, despite completing 3 of 4 passes in those situations. With that context, it’s clear that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was generous with his words after the game when he said, “I liked his demeanor.”

“I thought he was a really good communicator. I thought he was really present and cerebral, the way you like the QB position to be. There’s so much ball in front of him and the others. That’s why it was important, we were excited to participate in this game. We will use it as an added opportunity to gain some exposure to these quarterbacks.”

Unfortunately, the more exposure Haskins has had in the NFL, the less impressive he has been.

He has won just three of his 13 NFL starts and has below-average career metrics, including 6.3 yards per pass attempt. Haskins has more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (12) as a pro. And he never really feels like much of a threat to push the ball downfield — 7.4 career average depth of target.

Mason Rudolph has no issue pushing the ball downfield

That’s not the case with Rudolph, who loves slinging it. He connected with Chase Claypool on a 45-yard missile in the second quarter for the game’s biggest (only?) highlight. Tomlin loves chunk plays, and Rudolph can provide them.

Rudolph’s issue is ball security. He has 10 interceptions in 201 career passing attempts. And he biffed a reverse handoff on the game’s opening drive, resulting in a lost fumble. After the game, he said, “I’ve got to do a better job of putting it in his sweet spot.”

Tomlin was in no mood to handicap the quarterback battle Thursday. “Keep watching,” he told reporters who asked and was quick to check those who think it’s a two-man battle for the Steelers’ backup QB job.

Joshua Dobbs is a darkhorse candidate to win the Steelers’ QB battle

The best Steelers quarterback Thursday was the one who finished the game. The always overlooked Josh Dobbs had the game’s lone passing touchdown — a 5-yard connection with Tyler Simmons.

Tomlin stated, “He was with us before and performed similarly when we got the opportunity…he’s not going anywhere.”

Adam Beasley is the National NFL Analyst and Insider for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Adam’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS!
FEEDBACK

Have some thoughts you want to share on this article? Notice anything that you think might not be accurate? Join in on the conversation by clicking here to jump to the bottom of the page to get involved!

MORE THAN FOOTBALL WITH TREY WINGO
PODCAST

Follow along each week in our NFL Podcast - More than Football with Trey Wingo. Trey and co-host Brett Yarris host an exclusive interview series where they sit down with some of the most prolific names in sports media and the football world to dive deeper into the people who did More Than Football. Follow and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple and Spotify.

GET INVOLVED IN THE CONVERSATION!
LET'S TALK
FEATURED
FANTASY
NFL
PFN NEWSLETTER

Every day, get free NFL updates sent straight to your inbox!