Landry Jones Answers The Call

I sound like Landry Jones‘ biggest cheerleader lately.

My cousin, who is an indirect contributor to the articles I write (offering inspiration and keeping me in check) chuckled that I should buy a #3 jersey. The thought of that last season, and even heading into this year’s training camp, was laughable. Up until then, I saw a player who was uncomfortable and mistake prone in brief appearances in the preseason. It made myself (and others) question burning a 4th round selection on a quarterback who may never play. Wasn’t there a greater need when drafting?

However, those thoughts changed after this preseason. Jones was playing with more confidence, and looked more like the college superstar that was drafted in 2013. I remained optimistic that Jones had a future, even when I was advocating for the signing of Michael Vick.Apparently the Steelers did too, keeping Jones for another season. Who knew that move would be one of several decisions that have lead Pittsburgh to this point thus far.

Having conversations with different fans, I still stand by my word that signing Vick was the right decision. I felt the team would benefit from having a veteran backup as opposed to a QB who has never taken a regular season snap. But no one would’ve imagined, myself included, that Jones could be the answer in Ben’s absence. Michael Vick, who started in relief of an injured Ben Roethlisberger, became injured himself.

This opportunity opened the door for Jones to become the backup, and even the starter. Thinking about that back in July or August, most of us would probably throw in our Terrible Towel on the season. However, in November, it appears Vick looked like the uncomfortable player under center and not Jones.

That’s not a knock on Vick. He’s still a talented athlete, but one who is obviously not accustomed to Todd Haley’s offense. And who can blame him? He arrived to the team mid-camp, and when his number was first called, he had 3 days (read: 1 full practice) to get ready. His performance was underwhelming, but he still lead the team to a win over the Chargers.

However, it was Roethlisberger’s understudy for the last 2.5 seasons, Jones, who was be able to step in at a moment’s notice and keep the offense running on all cylinders. We saw Landry calling audibles at the line, throwing balls into tight coverage, and utilizing the weapons around him just as Ben did. But that wasn’t the most impressive thing I noticed about Jones: it is his calm under pressure. Imagine standing on the sidelines for as long as 3 hours, and having your number called in tight games: his ability to come in cold, and assist the team to two wins is a tremendous boost to a team constantly bitten by the injury bug. For what it’s worth, Jones has answered the call and has kept the Steelers playoff hopes alive amidst a conference (and schedule) full of unbeaten clubs such as New England and Cincinnati.

Now this isn’t to say Jones is the future or the successor, or comparable to a future Hall of Famer like Big Ben. They are two different players with different skill sets, and different styles. However, it is refreshing to see that the team was forward-thinking enough to draft a young man, 2.5 years ago, who is now a major contributing factor to the Steelers 5-4 record. Kudos are in order for the entire front office, and also for Jones, who has kept his cool, knew his role, and earned his keep throughout these last 3 years.

Regardless of who starts on Sunday, it’s great to know the team is in good hands, and hasn’t fallen apart like some other franchises when the “next man is up.”

8 responses to “Landry Jones Answers The Call”

  1. Scot Hickerson says:

    Good Article I am a home town fan of Landry Jones from Artesia, NM . I have seen nearly all of his games. . It pisses me off that people act surprised that Landry is really pretty Good. He has always been good. In High School ( 2yrs 7900 passing yards 80 Td’s and 2 State Championships) At OU How could he have proven it more than 40 wins 2183 passes completing 63% for 16600 yards and 123 touchdowns and a 3-1 Bowl record against top 25 competition at a BCS School. No QB has thrown more passes and completed more passes in NCAA history than Landry Jones. He owns 4 top 5 NCAA passing records and nearly all the Big 12 Passing Records. That kind of success does not come by luck Yes he had to adjust to the NFL as a rookie, but he still did ok considering he has only played with the bottom of the roster every preseason where he was barely ever to able throw it behind that last string o line. He should have been a first round pick but I think learning first under Ben has been the best thing for him. Landry should be a starter somewhere he is ready.

    • Joe Kuzma says:

      Thanks for commenting. I believe you have read a few of my other Landry Jones articles and I made mention of how he was playing with now unemployed football players in the preseason. It’s a catch 22, which is why I dislike hanging a career on the preseason. On one hand, you’re playing with players who will not make an NFL regular season roster. On the other hand, you can look like a superstar against these same players, then flame out when your number is called in the regular season.

      I had high hopes for him, but last year Jones was starting to look more like one of those college busts we’re all too familiar with. That’s not to say he would be a great NFL QB, that chapter is yet to be written (if it ever is written) but when I saw him come in for Vick in the Arizona game, I looked around at the fans jeering and thought to myself “prove ’em wrong kid.”

      • Scot Hickerson says:

        Steelers depot followed and tracked statistics during camp. With Gradkowskis injury they had Jones do extensive work with and against the first and second team. Landrys stats were very close to Bens In 11 on 11 in over 240 attempts he completed 65% and 30 tds and Ben was 69% and 36 tds with lIke 10 more attempts. That’s 6 like games worth. I think the steelers made it harder on Jones in preseason rather than making him look like a superstar. They kept him from playing with starters (top 4 wrs). But It was good for him. I hope they let Landry show what he can do in the Browns game. Heck 28 of 47 for 456 yards 3 tds that’s a typical game for Jones running the no huddle in college. Maybe we will see some no huddle this sunday.

        • Joe Kuzma says:

          Yes and I’m fairly certain we’ve seen Landry running no-huddle several times thus far, but I can’t say we saw the same with Vick, save for the end of the San Diego game (I think) where it was a necessary part of the 2-minute drill.

          • Scot Hickerson says:

            It will be interesting to see what the Steelers do with Jones, moving forward. Its like they wanted to keep him under wraps by keeping him 3rd and bringing in Vick. 2016 is his last year of his contract. I think they were hoping to sign him to a reasonable long term back up contract. Now that they are forced to let him play I hope he rises to the occasion. If he does they could be faced with some trade offers after this year. So we will see. If I was Jones I wouldnt stick around if Ben has another 5 years left. So what do you think about it.

          • Joe Kuzma says:

            I’ve had this same thought and I think it’s really early to be thinking about it, but obviously we’re all wondering about life without Ben, particularly with injuries.

            Landry has another year left on his contract, so he won’t be a free agent until 2017. With Michael Vick turning 36 and Bruce Gradkowski turning 33, it will be interesting to see how the front office handles these 2 free agents to-be in 2016. I don’t see Vick coming back, and I’m not sure Bruce will have any other feelers. Stands to reason, the team may opt to extend Jones and draft a 3rd string QB as one of their options, as they won’t pay a premium for 2 backups (whether it be Vick or Bruce.)

            Jones presents the same type of issue Chris Boswell will next season. If Bos continues doing well, he is both younger and cheaper than Shaun Suisham. We also don’t know how Suisham will be when he returns from injury, and we can say the same about Bruce.

            Given Jones bright spots in relief, I think the wise decision would be extending him. Now this is a business and Jones could test what money could be given to him elsewhere. Many teams are still searching for that franchise QB, but will he make that much more money than what our front office would offer, to leave a contender for a pretender? (Because let’s face it, those teams searching for a QB are those who aren’t winning franchises.)

            It also depends if Jones is willing to hang on for an additional few years that may never come if Ben plays into his late 30’s a la Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Brett Favre.

            I think of the Matt Flynn scenario too, where he signed a huge contract with Seattle and couldn’t win the starting job over a mid-round pick (Russell Wilson.) Teams may be leery to invest big money in an unproven talent. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like Landry will get much more playing time this season. I say “fortunately” because that may keep him in our fold. If he had the game Ben just had against Cleveland, he may be all but gone…

          • Scot Hickerson says:

            Yep I agree. Landry’s in a much better situation now than a lot of his peers, who started right away and failed to learn on the job and are now backups. Ej manuel, Colin Kapernick, Nick Foles, RG3, Blaine Gabbert, Branden Weeden, Josh Freeman, jake locker, Geno Smith. He beat most of these guys in college. I think Landry’s ready and can play as good as Ben did sunday. It was disappointing when he got hurt. Teams should wise up and see QB’s like Landry as more valuable then some rookie out of college. A lot can happen between now and then.

          • Joe Kuzma says:

            I’m with you on that statement and I even made the same comments about last year’s class such as Manziel and Bortles (who have had mixed success.)

            I do believe the Steelers saw something none of us saw when they held onto Landry the previous season. I felt his first 2 years were abysmal against bad preseason talent and most were probably on board with “why did we waste a 4th rounder on this guy.”

            It’s a shame he did get hurt, but could be a blessing in disguise if that setback helps him stay in Pittsburgh.

            We’re about to see what Brock Osweiler is about with Manning hurt. Jimmy Garropolo is the only other untested QB that I have interest in seeing how they fare in their current situation.

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