Rarely do we get to hear from the position coaches. During the draft, maybe once during training camp, and then they return to their offices to study tape for the next four months.
But Mike Prisuta of Steelers.com was able to catch up with QB coach Randy Fitchner, “Coach Randy” as players refer to him, and break down the most surprising Pittsburgh Steelers’ QB all season – Landry Jones.
“He’s had great opportunity now to come in and play, having to win the game, preserve a game, start a game and get a chance to not win a game and have to come back from that,” he told Prisuta.
You know Jones’ story by now and I won’t rehash every detail. Boy is drafted. Boy sits on bench. Fans want boy cut. Boy comes in and wins in his first appearance.
The only people not shocked by Jones’ performance? Himself and the rest of the group in that locker room. Fitchner gave Jones high praise for his level of preparation.
“His preparation never changed. And our work, what he was doing, never changed…[starting] didn’t faze him, so that probably told you a lot about him, too.”
Of course, even the Steelers weren’t comfortable with making him the #2 after Bruce Gradkowski was lost for the season. The team went out to sign Mike Vick, who became the initial starter following Ben Roethlisberger’s injury against the St. Louis Rams. As you’d expect, the experience Vick had was what the team coveted.
“I don’t know about all the decisions that were made, but I know Mike’s played an awful lot of football. You’re always looking for the experience in the room.”
That experience didn’t translate into success, however, with Vick’s time in Pittsburgh close to a disaster. Jones, meanwhile, has flipped the script, going from an afterthought to a player who could become the #2 in 2016. Ideally, the Steelers bring back Gradkowski and let he and Jones fight foe the right to be Ben’s backup with the loser becoming the #3. It’d give the Steelers excellent, experienced depth, without having to spend a draft pick on a third player.