The Pittsburgh Steelers have a quarterback quandary of minor proportions on their hands, and it is hopefully one that should have no relevance for the rest of the season. With the imminent return of Ben Roethlisberger, projected to start next week, the Steelers have to determine who will dress as his backup.
That decision could potentially be an easy one if Mike Vick’s hamstring injury remains unresolved through the week of practice, which would give the Steelers no other alternative but to continue to dress Landry Jones, who has been given his first helmets on game days over the course of the past four weeks.
Vick accounted for 11+ quarters of football for the Steelers, during which the team posted a 3-1 record, though his own contributions to that record, to say the least, could be disputed.
He finished his stint as the Steelers’ quarterback throwing 66 total passes, completing 40 of them for a completion percentage just north of 60 percent, but, as indicated by his 5.6 yards per attempt figure, many of those were ‘failed’ completions. Over his last two games, he completed just 16 of 34 passes.
In all, he threw for 371 yards with a quarterback rating of 79.8, adding two touchdowns and one interception, though he could have fairly accounted for several more interceptions. He was also sacked 10 times on approximately 100 drop backs.
Vick was injured early in the second half of his second start, after which Jones relieved him. He led the Steelers to a comeback to secure that victory, and started on Sunday in a defeat. In his playing time, he completed 24 of 41 passes for a completion percentage of 58.5 percent.
Jones threw for 377 yards, posting a yards per attempt figure of 9.2 and a quarterback rating of 93.2 after throwing three touchdowns versus two interceptions, one of which came off of a doubly deflected pass. He was sacked twice in 45 drop backs.
There are cases to be made in favor of either quarterback, though I would argue that the case for Jones to remain the backup is the stronger one, an argument that extends beyond the statistics, such as the superior quarterback rating and yards per attempt.
In the lead-up to the Chiefs game, I wrote that we should expect to see a Steelers offense that more closely resembled that which we would see under Roethlisberger, and it would be fair to say that that was the case.
Jones may not be the veteran that Vick is, but he has a great deal more experience working within this specific offense, and more experience working with an offense of this sort generally speaking.
The third-year quarterback receiving the first playing time of his career was more effective in running a wider breadth of Todd Haley’s playbook, and in doing so was better able to take advantage of his greatest assets, which are his skill position players.
During his playing time, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Martavis Bryant flourished. That alone may be reason enough to favor granting him the role of backup, a minor quandary that would be moot had Bruce Gradkowski never been injured.