Thursday, May 2, 2013

Is Steelers Draft Pick Landry Jones The Heir Apparent To Roethlisberger?


by Jason and Jayden

The 115th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Landry Jones, has great size, a very strong arm which allows him to make every NFL throw, has a fairly quick release, can fit passes into tight spots, has good timing on his throws and has good accuracy.

And there is little chance he will succeed Ben Roethlisberger as the starting quarterback for the Steelers.

There are two ways to look at this: Barring an injury or some sort of contract dispute, it is too early to draft an actual replacement. But, then, Jones has the requisite tools that you'd want as the man to make sure Renegade keeps playing week after week. Let's go over each.

Admittedly, the injury possibility is a strong possibility with Big Ben. As Skip Bayless said on ESPN's First Take during an interview with Steelers' wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders on Wednesday: "This man is hurt every week....His body is about 30 years older than he is." Adding the motorcycle accident as a reason along with the many hits and sacks he's taken throughout his career.

All in all what Bayless said said is valid: Big Ben is hurt a lot. There very well could be an injury, whether accumulative or via a freak Joe Theismann-like play, that could shorten his career. Having a safety-valve heir apparent in place is smart business.

That part of it, then, makes sense. Because, as Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said about the situation when Jones was drafted, it was time to "freshen up the (quarterbacks') room." With Geppetto and the Blue Fairy still working on repairing Byron Leftwich, and Uncle Charlie Batch due to receive his AARP card any day now, it was time. - http://tinyurl.com/cme2ycw

At the same time, though, one of the reasons Todd Haley was brought in to be the new offensive coordinator was to limit the hits on Big Ben. As Sanders said in the First Take episode referred to before, "coach Haley and the coaches, they are all worried about the injuries. But they're trying to get the ball out of his hands a lot faster. And, you know, I'm looking forward to Ben taking off because he's definitely in his prime."

That they are and that he is. Before Big Ben's injury, he was on pace for the fewest sacks of his career (23 in 2005), and still ended up being sacked "only" 30 times. The real difference in this is that he suffered the fewest sacks per pass attempt in his career (6.3%).

He also was enjoying a great statistical year that had him in several MVP talks, as he was fifth in the league in passing, was completing 65.2% of his passes, had 15 touchdown passes to only four interceptions, was leading the NFL in third-down passing and was on pace for having one of the best seasons of his career. A well-rested Big Ben will look to get back to that to extend his career.

As far as there being a potential contract dispute next season, while it is very unlikely that one occurs, Big Ben would have the upper hand. His Salary Cap number in 2014 is almost $19 million, and if the Steelers were to restructure him yet again it would only save about $5.5 million in Cap space. That would then push his 2015 Cap hit to almost $24 million. The Steelers simply can't have him or anyone else carrying that big of a cap hit in 2015. So, expect an extension to be signed next season, a la Tom Brady, that will keep Big Ben in Black and Gold for the remainder of his career.

Jones, though, is an intriguing proposition for the future. He was a very productive quarterback at Oklahoma, finishing with an amazing 16,646 career passing yards, 123 touchdowns and several school records on top of the attributes listed at the outset. Plus, he was known for being able to break free from defenders attempting to grab at him and also complete passes with defenders on him...like another passer you might call to mind. And Uncle Charlie believes that the Steelers felt it was time to more directly address the issue.

“[U]ltimately, I think this isn’t about replacing me. Big picture, maybe they’re thinking, ‘Can we develop Landry Jones to be the starter? Maybe two years from now, he could be our guy for the next 10 years.’ We don’t know. But with the contracts for quarterbacks these days, he’d certainly be a heck of a lot cheaper than Ben at age 34 or 35 or 36.” - http://tinyurl.com/cxdfswr

That, though, is contrary to what Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said.

"You look at the great quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, they’re in their mid-30s, and Ben’s just 31,” Colbert said. “We think there’s a lot of football and we hope there’s a lot of football left in him, and hopefully it’s even better than he’s been for us. It’s our job to maximize these years that he has left, and we really think that he has a nice stretch in him.” (italics ours)

Then, why draft him in the fourth round? Why draft a fourth rounder at all as your heir apparent? But that aside for now, if it's your job to maximize those years, why not wait for less-polished quarterbacks Tyler Bray of Tennessee or Zac Dysert Miami of Ohio in rounds six or seven? Therefore, if they don't pan out, less is squandered. Plus, the quarterback situation wouldn't look any differently than it does now, and it would provide the time supposedly desired. (I smell future trade bait.)

Plus, while in all fairness to the Steelers, they took Kirk Cousins to dinner the year before, then Bray's father wouldn't have reason to complain. After all, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers did say that they wanted him. - http://tinyurl.com/ckwfte5

Regardless, the only conceivable way that Jones succeeds as the starter is if Big Ben goes down permanently. Otherwise, like was asked by Ed Bouchette, which actually mimics what Colbert said, "How long are you going to groom someone to take his place?"

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TIDBITS: In case you didn't know, the Steelers 15 undrafted free agents are as follows:
defensive end Brian Arnfelt (Northwestern)
linebacker Alan Baxter (Northern Illinois)
guard Nik Embernate (San Diego State)
wide receiver Reggie Dunn (Utah)
offensive tackle Mike Farrell (Penn State)
offensive tackle Mike Golic, Jr. (Notre Dame)
DE Cordian Hagans (LA-Lafayette)
guard Chris Hubbard (UAB)
defensive tackle Omar Hunter (Florida)
long snapper Luke Ingram (Hawaii)
center Joe Madsen (WVU)
RB Curtis McNeal (USC)
center Ivory Wade (Baylor)
defensive tackle Anthony Rashad White (Michigan State)
and WR J.D. Woods (WVU)


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Steelers number changes:
J. Jones, No. 95;
L. Bell, 26;
T. Hawthorne, 30;
L. Jones, 3;
S. Thomas, 29;
M. Wheaton, 11;
V. Williams, 44;
M. Spaeth, 87;
LSH, 34;
Ta'amu, 74;
DVD, 23;
N. Williams, 91;
and J. Brown, 15.

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There will be 41 rookies who will attend Steelers Mini-Camp in all. Here's the link to the information on the Steelers website: http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/41-to-attend-rookie-minicamp/5e804de0-b33e-4a4d-8b4c-d8791d723eb8

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Hey! Did you know that Ben Roethlisberger's sister was in the wedding of new Steelers rookie QB Landry Jones? Carlee is good friends with Jones' wife, Whitney!

...yeah...I didn't care, either.