The Pittsburgh Steelers will hold quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out of Sunday’s regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns to keep him healthy for the playoffs and that means backup quarterback Landry Jones will make his fourth career start. So, is this an opportunity for Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley to get Jones a lot of in-game reps in case he might need him in the immediate future?
“I’m not looking at it as an opportunity for that, I’m looking at it as he’s got to get us a W,” Haley said during his weekly interview with Bob Labriola on Steelers Nation Radio. “We’ve been on a nice role here. We break it down in quarters, we got a chance to finish 4-0 in this quarter and that’s a big goal and one that we want to accomplish. So, Landry’s in there to win.”
Jones’ last start came back in Week 8 in the Steelers home loss to the New England Patriots and while he did some good things in that game, he definitely could have played much better and Haley spoke to that during his talk with Labriola.
“I thought his last time out against New England, we reviewed that tape obviously as a group, and there was so much more meat on the bone in that game in some things that he could easily do a lot better and guys around him can do a lot better,” Haley said.” So, really were just going to continue doing what we’ve been doing which is working to get better, continue to integrate these young guys and this week it just so happens that Landry’s at the controls and I would expect him to come out and do a great job.”
In the 14 regular season games that Jones has appeared in so far during his career he’s completed 61 passes for 794 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions and while he’s technically 1-2 as a starter, he only played one series in his lone win in 2015 as Roethlisberger had to relieve him early in the game against the Browns due to an ankle injury.
While Haley only views Sunday as an opportunity for Jones to win Sunday’s home game, the backup quarterback will also likely view it as an opportunity to increase his future worth as he’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March.
Jones will not have several key pieces of the Steelers offense to work with against the Browns as wide receiver Antonio Brown, running back Le’Veon Bell and center Maurkice Pouncey are all expected to be held out of that contest as well.
“People have to step up and play,” Jones said Wednesday during his talk with the Pittsburgh media. “D.A. [Demarcus Ayers] is going to have to do a good job again for us. Eli [Rogers] has been playing well, really, all year long. And then you have DeAngelo [Williams], who’s played a ton of football. When Le’Veon was out early, [Williams] did a really good job for us. You’ll have guys who will step in there and play well.
“This is the regular season so you have a 53-man roster. It’s not like you can just sit everybody. The guys that are going to be out there have played significant ball.”