While Sunday’s regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns was technically a meaningless one for the already playoff-bound Pittsburgh Steelers, it was anything but that for quarterback Landry Jones, who made his fourth career start. Jones, who threw for 277 yards against the Browns, drove the Steelers offense 75 yards in 9 plays to ultimately win the game in overtime and that likely surprised and impressed many of his detractors.
So, did Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley let himself feel good for Jones on the sideline while watching him finish off Sunday’s game-winning overtime drive with a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Cobi Hamilton?
“Yeah, I think it was awesome,” said Haley during his weekly interview with Bob Labriola on Steelers Nation Radio. “Landry’s a great human being that’s around here working hard every single week, week in and week out, been here a number of years. He got an opportunity to not only get his first win, a big win for us that got us to 4-0 in the final quarter of the season. We knew it was a big moment for him, especially in the fashion in which he got the win.”
So, did Jones reveal anything about himself with his play against the Browns on Sunday to Haley, or did it just reaffirm to the Steelers offensive coordinator what was already known about him?
“I think he built off the New England game,” Haley said of Jones’ play against the Browns. “You know it [the Patriots game] ended not the way he wanted to, or we did, but we saw a lot of growth in that game and then he got another shot and I think he showed a lot of growth from that performance and put the finishing touch on this one. And again, I think it was great for him, great for us.”
Sunday’s game against the Browns could possibly be the last one Jones ever plays in as a member of the Steelers as the Oklahoma product is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent come the start of the 2017 league year. While Jones’ certainly wasn’t perfect on Sunday, neither was the rest of the Steelers offense that was without the services of three key starters in addition to starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
It will now be interesting to see how Jones’ play Sunday against the Browns increased his free agent market value even though it came against a team that finished the 2016 season with only one win. Regardless, Jones has indeed shown quite a bit of growth and improvement since he first arrived in Pittsburgh and that needs to be acknowledged regardless of how you feel about him.