The Pittsburgh Steelers were set on getting a nice, long look at third-year quarterback Landry Jones on Sunday night during the Hall of Fame game, and they certainly did that. He played nearly every snap during the game, excepting a small handful of plays during which Tyler Murphy served as a read option quarterback.
But Jones was the only one of the two to actually throw a pass, of which he threw 32. The official stats show that he completed 16 of those passes for a completion percentage of just 50, which is about where his preseason career average has been in his first two years.
He also threw for just 135 yards and led one scoring drive, which netted a field goal. He had three pass attempts from inside the two-yard line and failed to get into the end zone, although the final pass was dropped.
And yet he showed tangible growth and improvement.
That’s not to say that he is on a clear upward ascent showing himself to be a legitimate NFL quarterback, but it would be unfair to look simply at the end result of his performance and conclude that Jones has not made strides in his game since last season.
As our team has observed during training camp, Jones’ internal clock finally seems to be working in his head, which was at times a baffling issue during his first two seasons. His entire game has also sped up.
His footwork dropping into the pocket is more deliberate. He processes his reads quicker and delivers the ball faster. Generally, his mechanics on the whole are not bad at all. While he doesn’t often get the desired touch on his passes, he showed that he can deliver a good ball, and do so with confidence.
His main issue continues to be when things break down, as he continues to show a difficulty in resetting in his process once he is thrown off. While decision-making is still an aspect of his game that requires work, the other major component of his overall body of work that would best serve an overall improvement would be better composure under coerced improvisation.
There is no secret that his wide receivers played a huge role in the rough night that he had overall, in a manner that goes well beyond a dropped touchdown and two fumbled receptions that resulted in turnovers and killed drives that had potential.
There were times, for example, that rookie Sammie Coates flashed. On one occasion, he put a slick move on the cornerback on a Jones pass targeted for the back of the end zone that the quarterback simply overshot, but he also failed to hold on to a goal line pass and was not on the same page in another instance.
The offense was responsible for a delay of game twice under Jones’ watch, and would have had another had the center not snapped the ball in his face before he was ready for it. Certainly, there is some work to be done speeding up his pre-snap game.
But even though he led a three-point effort, I did come away from this game more encouraged than discouraged about his potential to improve, and look forward to seeing him get another opportunity with a better cast of skill position players around him.