Entering Thursday, there’s still a decent chance that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will start Sunday in the team’s road game against the Baltimore Ravens. With that said, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley has become quite accustomed to preparing a backup to start in place of an injured Roethlisberger over the years.
“We have been dealing with this for a number of years,” said Haley during his weekly talk with Bob Labriola on Steelers Nation Radio. “We’ve got to prepare for all options. Obviously, we want Ben to play if he can, but the head coach will ultimately make that decision on Ben and we’ll go from there.”
Last season when Roethlisberger went down with a knee injury early in the regular season the Steelers turned to veteran quarterback Mike Vick before he ultimately gave way to Landry Jones due to an injury. During his weekly interview, Haley was asked if it helps this season having two quarterbacks of similar style in Roethlisberger and Jones.
“Yeah, without a doubt,” said Haley. “I talked about that some last year and loved Mike Vick and [he’s] obviously a great, great player, but snapping to a left-handed quarterback as opposed to right – right tackle, left tackle, all that, we’ve got a guy that understands what we’re doing. We can tailor each game plan to his strengths, obviously in Landry. So it makes it somewhat simpler, no easier, I don’t think though.”
Should Roethlisberger wind up not being able to start Sunday in Baltimore against the Ravens, Jones will make his second straight start. In the Steelers loss to the New England Patriots prior to the team’s bye week, Jones completed 29 of his 47 total pass attempts for 281 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“I thought he did a lot of good things,” said Haley when asked by Labriola to grade Jones’ performance against the Patriots. “He didn’t lose that game for us. It came down to the same reason that we’ve lost games here over the last couple of years. It’s the finer-detailed execution.
“We had a number of plays in that game, not the obvious ones. Obviously, we missed a field goal, we had a touchdown called back, we threw an interception in the end zone, there were a number of plays other than those that I think would have had a huge outcome on the game.”
While it’s nice of Haley to characterize the Steelers loss to the Patriots as a team-one on the offensive side of the football, it’s still very hard to look past the obvious plays that he mentioned as all three changed the overall complexion of the game and resulted in points being left on the field.
So, will Haley have to develop two different call-sheets this week depending on whether or not Jones has to start in place of Roethlisberger?
“Call-sheets develop for me as a play-caller during the week anyway,” said Haley. “I script throughout the week and in that scripting process of down and distance, and thinking about situations, that’s really how the ultimate call-sheet is developed. We have a plan and things we like and where and how those come out during the game are developed during the week anyway.”