Steelers QB Landry Jones Knows He Needs More Work

Regardless of what one felt about the Pittsburgh Steelers using their natural fourth-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to select quarterback Landry Jones—while trading their 2014 third-round pick to draft another player earlier in that fourth round—just about any objective analysis would come away with an unimpressive take on his rookie season.

Of particular note were his struggles with accuracy, which were on display during his preseason performances, where he connected on just 45 percent of his passes. Truth be told, he benefited more from his receivers—particularly his college teammate Justin Brown and Derek Moye—than the other way around.

He knows this is still a concern for him, acknowledging that he has “some accuracy issues” and saying that he must do a better job of “just throwing in tighter windows”. He admits that he is still adjusting from the college game, where “the windows were a lot bigger”. In the NFL, “everything contracts; it’s a lot different”.

Bob Labriola expressed similar concerns for the Steelers’ second-year quarterback during the team website’s most recent ‘Live’ segment:

In the preseason, he completed 45 percent of his passes—not great—for 348 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions. The one stat that jumps out to me about Landry Jones’s rookie preseason besides the completion percentage: only 5.27 yards per attempt, which to me indicates a lot of checkdowns, dumpoffs, those kinds of things.

In fact, Labriola believes that this is a “big training camp for Landry Jones”, wondering that “if he doesn’t show anything this year in the summer, maybe the Steelers start looking to get young at quarterback again in the next draft”.

Perhaps it’s not quite that dire just yet—after all, the primary backup, Bruce Gradkowski, is under contract for two more seasons—but there’s no doubt that the front office would like to see their sophomore signal caller take a step forward this summer.

One advantage that Jones has entering his second season is that he feels much more comfortable in the Steelers’ offense. Even starting off a play was more of a challenge last year, because he was accustomed to taking snaps nearly exclusively out of the shotgun. He had to adjust to taking the snap from under center.

“It’s one of those things, you come in as a rookie and everything is moving so fast and you’re not used to the protections, you’re not used to playing under center and all that”, he told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s just a whole different game from college”.

While he claims that he doesn’t “try to get into all the politics of that or challenging for No. 2 or anything like that”, he does need to try to get into the politics of learning how to climb the pocket.

As a rookie during the preseason last year, he struggled with pocket awareness at times. He also displayed awkward footwork, and had a penchant to throw from awkward positions and off his back foot.

Given that he’s no gifted gunslinger athletically, it would behoove him to clean up his mechanics and shorten his read time to give himself the best chance to succeed, which, in the short term, could help him climb the depth chart.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Sean Eckenrod

    What about the undrafted free agent rookie out of Cincinnati ? He looked good in private workouts and by far is more accurate than Landry. The only reason he made the roster in the first place is because he was a 4th round pick and the team didn’t want to get embarrassed He had a terrible training camp and preseason and we nee to get a someone in there that actually has a chance in a few years.

  • JAMESH

    Welcome!

  • JAMESH

    Tell me again why we drafted him? The next to last paragraph not only describes his rookie preseason, it describes his collegiate career.

  • Kurt Williams

    It was time to move on from Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich. They were looking to develop a young guy in hopes by year 2 or 3 be able to be the backup to Ben. This year he needs to show improvement and at least make a run at challenging for the backup job. If he is incapable of doing that, then they will have to address the position in 2015.

  • shawn

    Exactly … Im a HUGE OU fan … and i have no idea what the Steelers saw in this guy … i think it was a poor pick to say the least … i had no doubt in my mind that this guy would never be able to become a starting QB .. and unfortunately im doubting if he will ever be able to even be a competent back up …

    I predict after another poor to mediocre pre-season from Jones we end up drafting another late round QB project next year !

  • Xclewsive

    To me Landry Jones was a reach and if anything the Steelers should of at least drafted a player similar to the 2 players ahead of Jones on the depth chart. Pocket Passer are becoming less and less as the QBs are becoming far more mobile. Landry Jones I don’t believe will ever challenge for the #2, but if anything will be the #2 by default.

  • steeltown

    He is known to excel in the short and intermediate passing game, which as a backup is exactly what you need. Someone that can come off of the bench and move the ball without making the BIG mistake. Obviously he needs to work on his reads and decision making, but he’s still young. Hopefully he shows improvement during his 2nd preseason

  • steeltown

    He was a very productive college player

  • steeltown

    I think people forget how long we had Dixon on roster and how much time we gave him to prove his worth. In 3yrs time he regressed. Lets see if Landry can improve upon his rookie campaign.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Wow. Tough crowd.

    Judging a long term developmental QB by the pre season stats in his first year?

    I recognize no final judgements were made but how could anyone have expected anything from him last year in pre season. With everything he is doing and learning in that first year and knowing he isn’t playing at all during the season I think you learn infinitely more looking at his time in school.

    I agree he needs to show significant development this year.

  • Ken

    He is being judge because he was a fourth round pick, not a free agent hopeful. He was a huge reach.

  • ApexSteel

    There was some article posted a short time ago about late round developmental QBs and how they almost never workout. I didn’t believe in him beforehand, but that was the final straw.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I think for just about 85% of all the players this is a very important preseason. As long as he is developing in a positive way then I feel he is safe. I have defended him for all of last year but now he must start defending him self.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    How was a guy projected to go in the 2nd round a huge reach in the 4th? That is a head scratcher there!

  • Steeler Fanatic

    This frustrates me to no end. The blueprint should be starter: franchise QB; backup- retread but serviceable NFL QB; third-string- 6th rounder or below (i.e. FA) Repeat annually until said franchise QB is on the way out, then draft a new franchise QB with first pick. I always get a chuckle- if Ben goes down, our season is over. Same with Brady, Rodgers, etc. etc. Gradkowski could win a playoff game, but not 10-12 games over a season. Lastly, and this is more of a reach every year, but Charlie Batch can be a backup for a few more years… who cares if he’s 39 or 40… if Gradkowski goes down, Batch wouldn’t be the worst option. The Steelers absolutely dropped the ball when drafting Jones. Not so much about him, about the need. I’ll never figure it out.

  • Kurt Williams

    Landry Jones wasn’t drafted to be a starting Qb for the Steelers, he was drafted to be a developmental backup.

  • steeltown

    He has soo many haters. I don’t understand it. He was a 4th Rd selection, a developmental pick and that’s exactly what is taking place at the moment. It’s not like they used an early rd pick on him. I always tell people to look at New England which drafts a QB every 3yrs or so, they have drafted 4QBs since 2008 and all but one were selected in earlier Rds than L.Jones

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Too high for that. They could have gotten a developmental backup for a 6th rounder or 7th rounder… and if they had an idea of pulling a Matt Flynn and trading him for value, that isn’t happening.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    I don’t think he was a reach… actually not a bad value- it’s the pick itself. It’s like the Steelers were dipping their toes in the water, not going for a swim. Either you draft the heir apparent to Ben or you don’t. Backups come a dime a dozen. And as I’ve mentioned, if your star QB goes down, the season is almost a loss… the Doug Wiliams/Jim Plunketts/Kurt Warners of the world are the exception, not the rule.

  • steeltown

    The ever successful New England Patriots draft a QB every couple yrs.. and its not to replace Brady that’s for sure. They’ve used a 2nd Rd pick, two 3rd Rds and a 7th Rd selections since ’08, at one point they drafted 3 in 4yrs time

  • steeltown

    Too early to tell, Flynn spent 3 or 4 seasons with Green Bay and started a couple games before he was ultimately traded

  • Kurt Williams

    Seems fans are too caught up in what round Jones was drafted. You are more likely to miss than hit with 4th rounders. The jury is still out on Jones .Do these names ring a bell
    (Recent picks) 1974 was J. Stallworth (HOF)
    Misses
    Alameda Ta’amu
    Orien Harris
    Mathies Nkwenti
    Thaddeus Gibson
    Tony Hills
    Daniel Sepulveda
    Ryan Mcbean
    Willie Colon
    Fred Gibson
    Carlos King
    Hits:
    Aaron Smith
    Ike Taylor
    Cortez Allen
    Larry Foote
    Deshea Townsend

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Agreed… but Cassel only got traded because he got to show his talents on the field. Jones won’t do that this year, if anytime soon.. Mallet couldn’t be moved- and he was a first rounder, right?. Now, Garafalo. (sic)- and the Pats are missing on other positions

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Agreed… but Cassel only got traded because he got to show his talents on the field. Jones won’t do that this year, if anytime soon.. Mallet couldn’t be moved- and he was a first rounder, right?. Now, Garafalo. (sic)- and the Pats are missing on other positions

  • Eric MacLaurin

    You shouldn’t even judge a first rounder by his first preseason.

    The whole point of developmental is that he isn’t a prospect because he needs a lot of development before he can even play.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    You can’t use a first round pick on every position. Drafting a developmental QB is a bigger risk but the potential payoff is much higher.I

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Well, I guess it’s better to dismiss someone based on an article and a practice than it is too dismiss him on practice alone.

    Should they stop the draft after 2 rounds when the odds start to get a little scary?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I’m not convinced it was the best choice but I get the logic and can wait 2 years before declaring myself smarter than the Steelers front office.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Why should this be the blueprint?

    Because good teams have good QB’s until they don’t and then they aren’t good until they have another one?

    You can’t repeat a cliche and turn it into a fact.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Really?

    They should have gone with someone worse because there is no way you get a good QB after the first round?

    are you trying to be funny?

  • Ken

    Are you from Oklahoma??? Many people has him as a free agent signing.

  • Ken

    In reality if you have a problem with him, it should be directed at the Steelers not him. It’s not his fault he was drafted in the 4th. My thoughts were he would have been available in the 6th or 7th and no disaster if he wasn’t. You would like to think in the 4th round you are getting a steal, not a project..

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Are u from Mars?! He was considered a 1st rounder going into his Senior year but had a bad year and fell to a 2nd round prospect…you need to study a little bit more before you make uneducated comments

  • Scot Hickerson

    Based on the Pittsburgh sports writers you’d think Landry was an average no body that played at some small school who did nothing in college. I think they are still scared that the steelers will go with him rather than pay Ben 20 million. Mel Kiper had him ranked at 15 on his top 50 list in 2012. To say a 4 th was reaching is ridiculous.

  • steelster

    and the patriots have received heavy criticism for this and especially this year. Why spend a 2nd round pick on a qb when brady needs help now to win a superbowl. Terrible draft for the patriots, yes!

  • Ken

    It doesn’t matter where he was rated after his junior year. “second round prospect”? Who is uneducated ? Example for you – he wasn’t taken in the 1st round, or the second, or the third, or early 4th….

  • steelster

    I just remember hearing how bad this guy looked in practice last year. I mean really bad even for a rookie. Hope he improves or he is gone.

  • Kurt Williams

    This is the backup, to the backup QB position we are talking about right? I don’t think the season is riding on weather Landry Jones is the 2nd or 3rd string QB. Bens the number one for another 4-5 years so I think we all can rest easy and let poor Mr. Jones develop.

  • copanut

    Although I agree with your premise, I’m not sure why Daniel Sepulveda and Willie Colon would be considered misses.

    Sepulveda played for five years and was a quality punter and a sure tackler (for a punter). Ultimately he was overcome by injury, but any time you get a multi-year starter out of a fourth round pick, that’s not a miss in my view.

    Willie Colon has been an NFL starter for seven years (six with the Steelers) and is still active, and though also hit by the injury bug, he has managed four complete 16 game seasons so far.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The question is whether he was a good pick for the round he was picked. As far as talent wise he was, whether or not you like the pick or see the need is different. Talent wise I consider him a steal in the 4th considering what the experts felt he would go in the draft which was a 2nd round grade like it or not. :)

  • Shannon Stephenson

    tell that to Ken down below…lol

  • Kurt Williams

    Hey Copanut, the problem I have with Sepulveda was a punter in the 4th round? Granted he was besieged with the injury bug, but he never lived up to the 4th round selection (just my opinion).
    Colon was serviceable although I thought he was out of position and should have been playing guard instead of tackle…. and those GOD awful false start penalties were killers (seemingly always drive enders) so maybe my opinion is harsh on Colon. I give you that.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Not being funny but not literal… .. But how many qbs develop late… Brady… Wilson… I am a realist. Ben will be there five years so why develop a backup. You can buy one foe cheap. You don’t pay your all pro qb $20m per and then develop a backup that early. Most important position and it was a waste of a pick for an 8-8 team.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    If you want to be a realist or have followed the team you have to accept there is no guarantee he stays healthy and that drafting a position other than QB isn’t a lock either.

    I think they picked someone they would control for a long time for very little money and who could possibly develop into a starter. If not he was very likely to be a back up, again for cheap, who knew the system really well and provided value. A high percentage of low value can be a viable option to a low probability of high value.

  • copanut

    I do understand the view about 4th round being too high for a punter. It’s a valid point, especially given that the Steelers gave up both a 4th and 6th round pick to get him.

    On the other hand, if we look at your list of 15 recent 4th round picks, Sepulveda would rank no lower than 7th in terms value / productivity assuming he falls behind your list of 5 “hits” plus Colon. I don’t think there is any doubt that he had more impact on the team than Ta’amu, Harris, Nkwenti, Gibson, Hills, McBean, and King (and really, even if all are combined). That makes him an above average 4th round pick by historical standards.

  • Scot Hickerson

    Charlie Batch was convinced that Landry was being groomed to replace Ben and that he would be cheaper than Ben at 34,35,36,37.

  • Scot Hickerson

    Sorry but pocket passers actually rule the NFL and have for a while Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Kapernec and Wilson are on teams with top defenses and amazing running games. Its not all their athletic Ability. Jones is better suited for Haily’s offense than Ben is…

  • Scot Hickerson

    Bob Labriola needs to learn so statistical analysis skills.. Landry must have had short completions because his yards per attempt was 5.27.. Landry only completed 45% of his passes the more attempts you miss the lower your Yards per attempt will be. Landry did fine in preseason with what was a mess was the 3rd string O-line was.. One of Landry’s best skills is throwing the ball away before he gets sacked either on a completion or he just gets ride of it.. Landry was only sacked 52 times in 2183 attempt’s in college.. Preseason he was only sacked twice. If you were watching he threw it away to avoid the sack a lot Last preseason..

  • Kurt Williams

    Agreed, I think the bottom line is that fans would not have picked him in the fourth round, but who’s to say a different selection would have made an impact. It’s basically a crap shoot.

  • Kurt Williams

    03/17/2013 – 2013 Oklahoma Pro Day: When it comes to quarterbacking, George Whitfield Jr. has developed quite a reputation in NFL circles. The quarterback guru has personally tutored Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. So Whitfield knows what a first-round quarterback looks like. And he believes that Landry Jones will be a first-round selection. “That’s where I see him going,” Whitfield said Wednesday after Jones finished throwing during Oklahoma’s pro day. “He might not be the headliner or front line guy right now, but when they boil it all down and get down to what’s most important, Landry will figure his way into the first round.”

  • Kurt Williams

    Please read:
    03/17/2013 – 2013 Oklahoma Pro Day: When it comes to quarterbacking, George Whitfield Jr. has developed quite a reputation in NFL circles. The quarterback guru has personally tutored Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. So Whitfield knows what a first-round quarterback looks like. And he believes that Landry Jones will be a first-round selection. “That’s where I see him going,” Whitfield said Wednesday after Jones finished throwing during Oklahoma’s pro day. “He might not be the headliner or front line guy right now, but when they boil it all down and get down to what’s most important, Landry will figure his way into the first round.”

  • Kurt Williams

    Had to laugh when I saw this. Obviously this is all based on opinions but still amusing all the hate for Landry Jones.

  • JAMESH

    He was skittish under any kind of pressure and his accuracy was no match for his arm strength. Very un-athletic.

  • JAMESH

    Zackly.

  • JAMESH

    How was a guy who went in the fourth round ever projected as a 2nd?

  • JAMESH

    So, Whitfield was wrong on where Jones would be taken, but he was right on evaluating his talent? Or was he right on evaluating his talent but wrong on where he would be taken. In either case, he has established himself as being wrong.

  • JAMESH

    I remember how bad he looked in school…… under any kind of pressure.

  • JAMESH

    So, Whitfield was wrong on where Jones would be taken, but he was right on evaluating his talent? Or was he right on evaluating his talent but wrong on where he would be taken. In either case, he has established himself as being wrong.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Good points. Now, look at the NFL starting quarterbacks and how many are 1st or 2nd round picks. Yes, there is value in the later rounds but the pedigree is early. Every AFC team but the Raiders and Pats have 1st or 2nd rounders at qb. And Brady was behind a first rounder, and Schaub was behind Michael Vick… so the probability of a fourth rounder contributing at the qb spot is not realistic. They had so many other needs. But drafting a fourth round qb that will be a third stringer for three years makes no sense. They can’t afford developing a project, which what Jones is.

  • Kurt Williams

    I agree…. I think going into the draft maybe the Steelers thought it was a value pick in the 4th round based on his “talent”.

  • steeltown

    Former Colts GM Bill Polian thought he was the best QB prospect coming out in that draft. Basically, it’s all speculation and opinion.

  • steeltown

    The draft doesn’t always play out that way. Most 4th Rders are projects, current 4th Rders like Ike Taylor, C.Allen, Shamarko Thomas and M.Bryant were/are all considered projects when drafted.

    There was a run on QBs, Barkley and Nassib went off the board in the early 4th so maybe they felt like it was time to pull the trigger on good mid Rd QB prospect that had good production in college.

  • steeltown

    I wasn’t even counting Cassel, he makes 5QBs in the last decade they’ve drafted (Cassel, O’Connell, Zac Robinson, Mallett, Garoppolo)

  • steeltown

    Indeed

  • Scot Hickerson

    Mel Kiper had Landry Jones Ranked at 15 out of his top 50 prospects in 2012. If Jones had entered the draft in 2012 he would have gone ahead of Tanehill and Wheaton.

  • Scot Hickerson

    The 2013 draft was the first draft in forever where the whole class was labeled “a bad class” They all fell in the draft Landry became an after thought. Whitfield wasn’t wrong about Jones

  • Kurt Williams

    Scot, are you serious? So Ben will not get a contract extension and will leave as a free agent and LJ will be the starter after next season?

  • Xclewsive

    The new QBs drafted all mobile. Luck,RGIII, Cam, Brotles, Manziel, Bridgewater,Geno, EJ, Wilson, Tannehill and even to a lesser degree Dalton. They are statues in the pocket as they call can use their legs some better then others.

  • Scot Hickerson

    I’m saying that the steelers don’t pay older players top dollar. If Landry has show them he can do it then next year they trade Ben for a number one. If not they still have a franchise tag on Ben. Its about money and the example the Colts and packers set with their older franchise QB.

  • Scot Hickerson

    Tim Tebow taught us that if you can’t be a good pocket passer first then you fail in the nfl. The team will tell you what they think of their QB ability by how much they pass versus how much they run . OU went all pass all the time with Landry throwing it 545 times a in a 13 game season. Luck can really throw it and doesn’t run much. I admit there is more than one way to skin a cat or win. Look at Seattle and San Francisco versus Denver and the Saints.

  • Kurt Williams

    I get the process, I’m just not sure if LJ compares to A. Rodgers and A.Luck. They were both high picks Luck#1 and Rodgers did fall a bit but there was never a question about his ability.
    That would be ideal if LJ shows the ability of those QB’s. I hope his level improves and let the

  • Xclewsive

    Exactly! The QB that won the SB was mobile. The league is changing and Tebow was never part of that change. Just a persona because he didn’t have what it took to be a QB.

  • Scot Hickerson

    I looked up A Rodgers whole college career and they fit into Landrys Sophomore year. So yeah I think he has a good chance.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    what does projected mean? It was where professionals in the business felt was his potential draft round. He went later then what the professionals projected which makes him a good bargain…I do not see why you and many others do not understand such an easy concept.

  • JAMESH

    The easier concept that is self-evident is that nobody thought he was worthy of their pick until the Steelers did so in the FOURTH round. It is also self-evident that the ‘professionals’ who projected he should go in the 2nd round were wrong. This is not a concept……. this is fact.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Just because he did not go in the 2nd round does not mean he wasn’t 2nd round quality…the draft experts get most of their info from scouts in the NFL which tells us most teams saw him as a 2nd rounder. Need dictates when a guy goes till he becomes such a huge bargain it becomes hard to pass up on a guy thus why we picked a QB in the 4th round which seems odd to most. This doesn’t make the professionals wrong till after 4 years or so and we see what has become of the pick.

  • JAMESH

    With all due respect, if the draft experts you follow projected him as a 1st or 2nd round pick, you may need to follow a different collection of draft experts. Walter Football, April 23, 2013 projected him to go in the 4th-6th round in their QB rankings. And this from Mike Mayock – “I have a fourth round grade on him.”