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Steelers OC: We’ve got to throw the ball down the field

The Jets, Steelers and Broncos are among five AFC teams still searching for their first win of the 2019 season. Mike Florio and Chris Simms determine whether any of them can turn it around.

The Steelers threw a lot of short passes during Mason Rudolph’s first start at quarterback last week, but it doesn’t sound like that was exactly the game plan that offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner drew up against the 49ers.

Rudolph hit Dionte Johnson for a 39-yard touchdown in the second half and JuJu Smith-Schuster turned a 12-yard pass into a 76-yard touchdown, but the offense was otherwise unsuccessful when the ball traveled a long way through the air. Fichtner was asked about a lack of deep throws during a Friday media session and said that there were opportunities to do so early that Rudolph didn’t take.

“We were able to go down the field early,” via Josh Rowntree of KDKA. “You’ve got to throw them. You’ve got to throw it. You’ve got to attempt to throw it there.”

Fichtner went on to say that he wasn’t second-guessing Rudolph because many things come into play for a quarterback deciding whether to pull the trigger. Rudolph didn’t disagree with Fichtner when the same topic came up during his own press conference.
“For sure. Opportunities in the first quarter, really the first couple drives, I could’ve been a little more aggressive toward,” Rudolph said. “Learning experiences. I’m an aggressive person. That’s who I’ve always been at the quarterback position, so a little unlike me. Mistakes you look forward to cleaning up.”

He’ll get a chance to cut loose against the Bengals on Monday night.