Why Rudock Should Keep His Backup QB Position.
Impressive Preseason Performances
In eight preseason games, Jake Rudock has completed 67 of 107 passing attempts (62.6%) for 713 yards with 7 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions. That comes out to a fantastic 96 quarterback rating.
While Rudock has only made one regular appearance thus far (and it went terribly, he went 3/5 passing for 24 yards with an interception), he has made the most of his playing time in the preseason.
In 2016, he went 14/23 for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Bills. Last year, his stat lines against the Colts was 13/21 for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns.
In the third game of the 2017 preseason, against the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, he completed 10/13 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, bringing the Lions back from a 24-14 deficit to take a 28-24 lead in the fourth quarter.
All in all, Rudock has shown an ability to command the Lions offense in his admittedly limited opportunities. There are many quarterbacks who look solid in the preseason, only to be unable to put it all together in the regular season. However, it is never a bad thing to have strong preseason performances.
He Knows The Playbook
Jake Rudock is entering his third season with the Lions, and also his third season under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Cooter took over the Lions offense roughly half way through the 2015 season, meaning Rudock has only been in this offensive system for about a half year less than starting quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Also, Rudock is very familiar with the offensive personnel. He has for two season been teammates with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Theo Riddick, TJ Jones, Ameer Abdullah, Taylor Decker, Graham Glasgow and other key offensive players. This theoretically could increase chemistry between Rudock and these players if he ever had to step into a real game for Matthew Stafford.
While Rudock’s competition, 13th year quarterback Matt Cassel, has much more NFL experience, he no experience whatsoever in Cooter’s spread, pass heavy, air raid style offense. Rudock’s familiarity with both the scheme and players on the offense give him a definitive edge in this area.
Rudock has also rushed for 121 yards in his eight preseason games, averaging 8.1 yards per carry. That means that, on average, he added just over 15 yards per game on the ground. The Lions offense only averaged 76.3 rushing yards per game last season, so an extra 15 yards could be very significant.
For comparison, Matthew Stafford averaged 6.1 rushing yards per game last year. His career high came in 2016, when he ran for 207 yards, or an average of 12.9 yards per game.
In Rudock’s preseason performances, he has show a very strong scrambling ability, and that is extremely useful. Even when he didn’t run the ball, he has done a good job of evading pressure and buying time for his receivers to get open. This can be one of the hardest things for quarterbacks to learn, and Rudock has been a natural at it since he’s been with the Lions.
His Competition Isn’t Very Good
As unproven in the regular season as Jake Rudock is, Matt Cassel is equally proven. Proven to be bad.
In his career, Matt Cassel has played in 106 games. He’s started 15 games three times in his career. Outside of one pro bowl season in 2010, he has been spectacularly average at best.
However, over the last six seasons, Cassel’s play has declined from average to downright bad. He’s played in 37 games in that time, completing 529/899 passes (58.8%) for 5750 yards, 28 touchdowns, 36 interceptions and a passer rating of just 71.5.
While Matt Cassel has veteran experience, he simply does not have what it takes to play in the NFL anymore. The Lions should go with the younger player with much higher potential as their backup, Jake Rudock.