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