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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An inside scoop on Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Landry Jones

Jake Trotter, author of  I Love Oklahoma/ I Hate Texas (Triumph Books 2012), covered  Sooner  football for four years as beat writer for the  Oklahoman  before joining  ESPN’s  Sooner Nation  in 2011.   Trotter,  a native to  Oklahoma City, knows  Oklahoma  football inside and out. He was exactly the guy I wanted for an insider’s opinion on newly signed  Pittsburgh Steelers   quarterback  Landry Jones.

Landry Jones  was taken by Pittsburgh  in the 4th round of the 2013 draft. While at  Oklahoma  the young quarterback set records in the  Big 12 Conference  becoming the all-time leader in passing yards (16,646) and total offense (16,271); Landry Jones  also had his fair share of struggles. Critics observed in  Jones  inconsistency, the tendency to wilt under pressure, and too many interceptions. Granted,   Landry Jones  took over for fan favorite Sam Bradford,  very large shoes to fill in  Oklahoma,  ultimately comparisons were made between the two quarterbacks. I decided I would reach out to  Jake Trotter and try and make sense of this  Landry Jones   conundrum.

A looming question in   Steeler Nation   is whether Landry Jones will spend his career as a solid backup or does he possess the tools to take his game to the next level?

”The tools are there.  Landry  can make all the throws. He was incredibly durable in college. He has the prototypical size you want. The determining factor in whether  Landry  will be anything more than a career backup will be intangibles,  decision-making and pocket awareness. Those three things held  Landry  back at times during college. If he improves there, he could have a great career in the  NFL.”

What about  Trent Dilfer’s  comments? Do you agree? (Specifically red-zone development and if that affected  Landry’s appeal in the 2013 draft)

(Dilfer  called  OU’s play calling ”brutal” while defending  Landry Jones, stating his draft stock lowered because they removed him during red zone situations in favor of a power running QB formation known as the  Belldozer)

”I see where  Trent  was coming from. And that may have hurt  Landry's stock a bit. But  Landry  has four years of tape, including two-and-a-half in which he always operated in the red zone. And quite frankly, if  Landry  had not struggled so much with the offense in the red zone,  OU  wouldn't have had to resort to a gimmick to score inside the 5.”

Is  Landry Jones  the type of athlete who can still be coached or has he reached his plateau?

”Interesting question. He played four years of college ball, so I'm sure  Pittsburgh  didn't draft him on upside. But he can get better, especially with the mental game of playing quarterback.”

What is your assessment of  Landry Jones'  football IQ? 

”Excellent. He knows the game as well as any QB coming out of college. It's just a question of translating that to the field every game. But when  Landry  was on, he was almost unstoppable.”

Is there any justification to the concerns regarding  Landry Jones’  confidence?

Landry had a tendency to show really bad body language that bothered fans, and didn't exactly evoke confidence. That's something he has to work on.”

And finally what is your overall assessment of  Landry Jones including character, his current position in  Pittsburgh, and where you think he will be four years into his professional career?

Landry  will never be a guy you'll have to worry about off the field. He's pretty mature for his age, underscored by the fact he's already married. He's an extremely hard worker on and off the field. So those are real positives and building blocks.  Landry was never fully embraced by the  OU  fan base, in large part because he followed  Sam Bradford. I think that may have messed with his head at times, as it probably would a lot of us. Getting away from that might be a real positive for him. Also, learning from  Big Ben  will help, too. They have a connection with Landry's  wife and  Ben's  sister playing college basketball together at  OU. If  Big Ben  is still around in four years,  Landry  will probably be a backup. But you could do a lot worse taking a shot on a QB hoping he could develop into your guy down the line.”

John Thomas Menesini
NFL Staff Writer
Football Extra Points

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