Under normal circumstances, teams would prefer to know who their backup quarterback is going to be already at this point in the season. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they know that they have one option that they can depend on in Landry Jones, a quarterback who has served in that role for two and a half seasons and has done well by their evaluations. But they also have two intriguing young quarterbacks that could see the decision-making process go down to the wire.
General Manager Kevin Colbert was asked directly if the plan was to go into the season with Jones as their backup quarterback. “Well, that’s an option”, he said, but added that Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs “have shown signs that maybe they can be that person, that player as well, and that’s really a good thing”.
Of the three, Jones is the only one who has played an NFL snap. Entering his sixth season, he has shown slow but steady progress over the course of his career—or at least over the past three seasons—coming off his best showing in his victory over the Cleveland Browns in the regular season finale sans Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and probably others I’m forgetting.
“What we have to do is try to figure out the best 53 and make those decisions based on not only abilities but availability, and who can help us beat the Cleveland Browns, and ‘can we have this player plus this player and that player’, and it’s really just a continued open discussion” that he admitted could go down to the cutdown deadline at 4PM.
Rudolph, the rookie, is obviously safe. The Steelers have to decide whether to keep one or both of Jones and Dobbs. The fan consensus has clearly been that they should move on from Jones, even releasing them if they can’t find a trade partner, but the team has not entered a season with backup quarterbacks who have never thrown an NFL pass in decades.
Still, Colbert was given the opportunity to commit to the notion of Jones being the team’s backup and declined to do so, merely saying that, basically, it was one way to go. If the team truly believed that Jones was the only quarterback on the roster who could serve as the backup, then there would be no discussion necessary about whether or not he would be the backup, let alone whether or not he would be on the roster.
It seems a lot more likely than it did even a couple of days ago that the team may try to carry all four quarterbacks, at least temporarily. They left that option on the table for themselves, and Mike Tomlin also left the practice squad route open.
The decision could ultimately be made by other clubs, however, depending on what sort of offers the team is able to field for Jones and Dobbs, both of whom have reportedly received some level of interest.