Like Big Ben, Mason Rudolph not allowed to call quarterback sneaks

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After the Steelers were twice stopped on fourth-and-1 in their playoff loss to the Jaguars a year and a half ago, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger revealed that he wasn’t allowed to audible to a quarterback sneak, even when he could see he had the room to plunge up the middle for a yard.

Now the Steelers have a different quarterback and a different offensive coordinator, but the same policy: Don’t audible to a quarterback sneak.

Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said today that he doesn’t like calling the quarterback sneak for Mason Rudolph.

“People that know me know that it’s not been one of my favorite things in the world to do,” Fichtner said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I wouldn’t mind in certain situations, but when it’s obvious situations — fourth-and-1, third-and-1 — it really isn’t something I’m interested in doing. I value our quarterback. There’s a lot of stuff going on in those piles. Just the truth be known, if we can’t hand it to one of our backs and we can’t block them, then we don’t deserve to win that down.”

Obviously, every team values its quarterback. But that doesn’t mean the quarterback sneak isn’t a play worth calling. Tom Brady has been effective at quarterback sneaks for two decades without getting hurt running one.

And as for Fichtner’s belief that the Steelers can just hand it off on fourth-and-1, well, they tried that on Thursday night and it didn’t work: In the first quarter on Monday night, the Steelers had a third-and-1 and handed off for no gain, then tried a handoff again on fourth-and-1 and again got stuffed for no gain. Fichtner was asked whether Rudolph, seeing how the defense was primed to stop a handoff, could have just kept the ball himself.

“No, he did not have that option at the time,” Fichtner said. “We actually just made some critical errors we shouldn’t have made. But he didn’t have that option, no.”

For his part, Rudolph said he told Fichtner he likes quarterback sneaks.

“I would love to do that. I tell him that every week. ‘If you want to call it, go ahead. I’ll get it for you and we’ll keep the chains moving.’ It’s just a matter of who he gives it to, what he calls, and we’re going to execute whatever decision he makes,” Rudolph said.

So Rudolph is up for a quarterback sneak. If Fichtner lets him.

25 responses to “Like Big Ben, Mason Rudolph not allowed to call quarterback sneaks

  1. A 4th and one handoff to the RB might actually work if Fichtner would stop calling delayed draw plays with the RB 8 yards behind the QB, when there are 7-8 defenders stacking the line.

  2. When Brady sneaked in wk2 Miami I must admit I held my breath but in the overhead replay saw there were absolutely no defenders opposite! You should be able to trust a QB to call it.

  3. There’s only one thing stupider that having a “no QB sneak” policy.

    That’s telling the world I have a “no QB sneak” policy.

    I’m looking at you, too .. Tom Coughlin.

  4. What an idiotic policy. He’d rather lose than win a game with a qb sneak. He’ll be fired by next year: for being incompetent and gutless.

  5. Eagles normally run it at least 3 times a game and get it every time. That play is probably one of the least worried I would be for a QB. I do often wonder why they don’t put a big RB under center for those plays and let him do it. It would be almost unstoppable.

  6. Handing the ball to the running back, on 3 or 4th and 1, and getting a yard is very difficult in The NFL. This aint the 80’s, dude.

  7. Some of these sideline dictators are really ridiculous.The QB should be allowed to use whatever option he has at his disposal.
    The players don’t play with that kind of fear. To me it’s silly that these coordinators want to transfer their fears to the players.

  8. I understand where he is coming from but don’t agree. You should be willing to try anything and everything to win. Trust your QB and win the game.

  9. Whole coaching staff needs to go. You have a HC who smacks his gum with the headset on while staring off into space, the OC who is telling the world that he doesn’t trust his QB to do anything (even a HoF QB), and a DC who the next time he develops a secondary player will be the first time in his Steelers career.

    Rooneys – I’m begging you. Retire that “we’ve only had 3 coaches” mantra and move forward to today’s NFL. Your current coaching staff is not capable of much except being buddies with the players.

  10. One of Tomlin’s favorite sayings is “we don’t live in our fears” yet his decisions constantly contradict that.

  11. Drew Brees is really good at an sneaks, never got hurt doing them. Pretty sure the Saints value him.

  12. This is the group think for the majority of NFL teams now. The ego-heavy coaches would rather risk losing running their plays than win with the QBs making obvious audibles. Same thing holds with QB injuries. Even when the backups have a totally different skill set most coaches call plays like the starter was still in the game because NOTHING is more important than their precious system.

  13. Glad to see the preseason has seeped into the regular and post season.

    Oh wait, Super Bowl too. Remember Cam Newton not diving after the loose ball against the Broncos?

    What a wonderful trend.

  14. I think Brady is 107 and 12 on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1. It’s the most reliable play there is and the threat of it helps the run game too.

  15. Mike Tomlin, leader of men, is the only guy qualified to make such a call

    Tomlin is a proven leader of men….grown men but that’s something you have no experience with.

    This troll needs a hobby, girlfriend….still stuck on trying to insult a man much more successful than himself…jealousy is such an unbecoming trait.

  16. I suppose he has his reasons. I know the whole analytics thing is panned by fans and media but I have to believe that over the past 5 years or so, 3rd or 4th an 1 QBs sneaks have been overwhelmingly successful.

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