Landry Jones is the new kid on the block in Pittsburgh. He will start his first NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. Though many diehard fans were hoping for the return of Ben Roethlisberger, his return was still questionable. Why take a chance? Big Ben’s health is more important than a game involving the limping Chiefs. Division rival Cincinnati should be the target date for Ben.
The Steelers and Mike Tomlin made the correct move. To put Roethlisberger on the field with limited mobility is a suicidal move. The Steelers’ offensive line has made strides. But putting Ben out there as a sitting duck is asinine. He’s your big money quarterback. He’s the signal caller you want on the field when the AFC North Championship is at stake. To lose him in for the season would really compound the problem.
Jones showcased his skills against the Arizona Cardinals and impressed Tomlin enough to earn the start. The Steelers are behind the kid all the way. Leading up to the game, Jones had his first full week of practice. Since relieving Michael Vick in the second half of the Arizona game in Week 6, Jones has been a hot commodity. He’s been in this situation before. Being the unknown backup isn’t new to him. When he was at Oklahoma, according to Penn Live, he was in a similar situation when star Sam Bradford went down with an injury.
Jones could have packed it in and called it a season when the Steelers signed Vick. But he didn’t crack. He kept doing his job. Jones’ job became helping teach the quarterback in the locker next to his, Vick, an offense he had studied himself for the last two-plus seasons, all while not getting to wear a game day uniform until October of this year. But Jones is still expected to win.
The social media comments about Landry Jones were horrible. When reading that Jones had received a game uniform, one Steelers fan wrote, “I think I just threw up in my mouth.”
Yet here he is, ready to start for the beloved Black & Yellow.
Jones was always supposed to be the man. The Steelers drafted him on the strength of his arm and football smarts. His training camp wasn’t always the best. But he was watching Roethlisberger and learning. He was doing all the things that an intelligent backup quarterback does. He was caught between a rock and the chance to start. On one side was Vick — who the Steelers had invested in as thee star backup — and on the other side was Big Ben. All he could do was patiently wait.
Now that the big day is here, Jones may be the only person with a cool head. The Steelers are expecting big things, Steelers Nation is counting on a win, and the nation is looking on to see the birth of a new star. Why would he be under control? Overconfidence isn’t sexy.
“I’ve dealt with noisy environments at Oklahoma, played in some big games where I had to go to a silent snap count,” said Jones. “Not really a whole lot different.”
Jones’ performance caught the eye of Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, who will match wits with Pittsburgh offensive coordinator and former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley on Sunday.
“I think it speaks well for his ability to prepare, because that’s the challenge for any guy that’s a backup — and he was actually the third quarterback. He obviously stayed very much involved mentally and emotionally as he was sitting in the background there.
“He’s got, obviously, some composure. The players responded well to him. He did a heck of a job in a very difficult situation.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t have much to say and kept the praise to a minimum.
“He made some nice plays, he’s a professional quarterback,” Tomlin said, when asked specifically about a nice back-shoulder throw Jones made to receiver Antonio Brown. “We’re not going to throw a pep rally or a party because of it. He did what was expected.”
That being said, Landry Jones is expected to win.
[Feature Photo by Jared Wickerham / Getty Images]