Pittsburgh Steelers veteran quarterback Landry Jones couldn’t help but get a bit philosophical recently while contemplating his role on the team as the backup to a starting quarterback. It is the job perhaps more than any other that at one moment is the least important, but can in a flash become the exact opposite.
“Backup quarterback is just a weird, weird position,” he told Kevin Gorman. “It’s like, you’re a leader but not really, until you have to be. You’re more in the background than anything. It’s an odd thing. Most of the time, you don’t want to be seen or heard. Once Ben’s not here, you have to be seen and heard”.
He is referring of course to Ben Roethlisberger, who is entering his 15th season as the Steelers’ starting quarterback. Jones has been the primary backup for just two of those 15 seasons, though he is a five-year veteran, and looking to make it six in Pittsburgh.
The 2017 season was a rare year in which Roethlisberger did not suffer any injuries that caused him to miss at least a start or two, as has been the case for the majority of his career. He did sit out the regular season finale because the Steelers had by then already clinched a bye week.
What Jones said of his job is true. Barring exceedingly rare circumstances, you never plan to have more than one quarterback play a snap in any given game. Even though it’s the most important position in football, you only plan on having one player there that matters. Until you don’t have that player.
And then if you don’t have somebody who can step in and carry the team, you’re screwed. Compare the Indianapolis Colts of recent years without Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck to a team like last season’s Philadelphia Eagles, which managed to win the Super Bowl with backup Nick Foles starting through an excellent postseason run.
Now, I’m not as confident in Jones as he is himself that he could do what Foles did in the same set of circumstances, but I do believe the is a good backup. Still, he knows as well as anybody that not just his job but his roster spot will be on the line this summer.
And he is taking advantage of the time that he has now with Ben Roethlisberger having been on vacation recently to get in as much work as possible with the first-team offense. Roethlisberger was only in attendance for the first OTA practice, but was not around for the next five.
Ramon Foster told Gorman that Jones has looked good out there so far, and we have heard from beat writers that he looked better than ever during practices last season. He posted the best game of his career to date in the regular season finale.