2016 South Side Questions: Will Landry Jones Be Let Loose?

The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: How much will the Steelers allow Landry Jones to let it loose against the Patriots on Sunday?

We all know by now, of course, that the Steelers’ offense is going to be led against New England by Landry Jones on Sunday, with Ben Roethlisberger missing the game due to a knee injury. What we don’t necessarily know is what we’re going to see from Jones and his offense.

While he doesn’t have a great deal of playing time, he does have a great deal of knowledge about the Steelers’ offense. He is in his fourth year of the system, and his head coach yesterday talked up his ability to run the offense. But he also added that you can’t let that fool you into thinking he can do everything—namely, he’s not Roethlisberger. And that means the offense has to look different.

So that, of course, makes me wonder how it’s going to look different—aside from the obvious probability that they will probably be focused more on the ground game. But what is the passing game going to look like? How much of a free reign is Jones going to have on his throws?

The reality is that Jones has really only had one game of significant experience, and that came against the Chiefs last year, in his one game that he started and finished and accumulated a large number of throws.

In that game, including any penalties, he threw 31 passes, and three of those throws were actually at least 30 yards down the field in the air—two of them over 40 yards. In all, 16 of this throws traveled at least 10 yards, with almost all of those from that group going for at least 15 yards. So that means that he was actually going down the field with great frequency.

Only 10 of his passes came from within five yards of the line of scrimmage, and only six of his passes actually went to his running backs, which I found interesting. Jones has presumably grown a fair bit since that first start, so it will be interesting to see how his repertoire has evolved over the course of the past year—making his start, once again, in Week Seven.

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