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.