The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the New England Patriots Sunday at Heinz Field and while several members of the team’s fan base are wishing the team would just forfeit and use the week as an extra bye in order to get healthy, as of right now, the game will go on as scheduled.
With starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger now ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Patriots after having surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee that he damaged during Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, as expected, announced on Tuesday that backup quarterback Landry Jones will make his third career start at Heinz Field against the Patriots.
“I’ll say this about Landry: He’s been here a number of years now. He has a very good understanding of our offense,” Tomlin said. “That knowledge and understanding is one thing, ability to execute is another. We’re going to give him all the reps this week and let him go through the preparation process and it’s less about what he knows and more about what he’s capable of executing at a high level and his opinion will be a component of that.
“He’s a good communicator, it’s part of the functions of being a backup quarterback – the talking and schematics and the seeing of what’s on the field and communicating the such. He’s grown in a lot of ways in that area in the last several years and hopefully that’s an asset to him as we prepare and ultimately play this week.”
Tomlin was asked Tuesday if it’s important to get Jones’ confidence up during this week’s practices.
“He’s a professional athlete that’s kind of been in this situation for us in the past,” Tomlin said “I don’t suspect that he’s going to be lacking in confidence. Landry’s a pretty confident guy by nature.”
Tomlin went to say that the coaching staff will formulate their game plan around the progression Jones shows during practice this week.
“It’s important that he operates and operates in rhythm and makes good and quick decisions,” Tomlin said. “We’re going to operate in his comfort zone. He’s familiar with our offense and offensive structure. He’s been here a number of years. We’re going to prepare and then go play.”
In his two previous starts, one of which lasted just two offensive possessions due to him suffering an ankle injury, Jones completed 19 of his 33 pass attempts for 232 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. He was also sacked twice.
Since those two starts, Jones has appeared in just three games for the Steelers and completed 3 of 10 pass attempts for 45 yards with 3 interceptions in addition to being sacked once.
For those of you wanting Zach Mettenberger to start this week over Jones, that’s obviously not going to happen. He will, however, get some work in this week at some point, according to what Tomlin said on Tuesday.
“He’s done a good job of getting up to speed in the short period of time that he’s been here,” Tomlin said of Mettenberger, who was claimed off waivers from the San Diego Chargers just prior to the start of the regular season. “Much like I talked about with Landry, what he knows and what he’s prepared to execute may be two different things. Well give him an opportunity to display some of that this week and be thoughtful about the things that we ask him to do if he should get an opportunity.”