The Pittsburgh Steelers today chose to take the option they were least expected to take at the quarterback position, outright releasing veteran quarterback Landry Jones in favor of carrying second-year quarterback Joshua Dobbs and rookie Mason Rudolph.
In doing so, they have elected to head into a season containing legitimate Super Bowl aspirations with a pair of backups who have never thrown a pass in an NFL game before. Provided that the team has no intentions of re-signing him, it will be the first time since 1980 that the Steelers will carry no backup quarterbacks who have ever taken an NFL snap before.
While the majority opinion among fans, who have long hated Jones, was to favor Dobbs and his future over the veteran experience during a Super Bowl run, it was pretty much unanimously believed that Jones would make the roster among local and national media, barring a trade.
For good reason. It bucks a lot of Steelers history. Head Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert are really stepping out of their comfort zone and going out of character in making this move. Even the majority of those who believed that the team should keep Dobbs did not seem to believe the team would actually do it.
So I guess you could say that Tomlin isn’t living in his fears—though some of us still are. I do have my doubts about Dobbs and Rudolph being able to adequately maintain the offense if Ben Roethlisberger were to miss a series of games this year, but I’m also simply impressed that the team made this move that seemingly goes against what we assumed we knew about how they operate.
Most surprising to me was the fact that the team only gave Jones the opportunity to, in hindsight, defend his job in two preseason games. He played a total of 24 snaps in the preseason and had one drive end prematurely when a receiver dropped a pass that was intercepted. It’s a tough to experience losing your job as a veteran when you don’t get much of a chance to play.
That is in fitting with comments that Tomlin has made this preseason, however. I believe it was heading into the third preseason game in which he talked to Bob Labriola, blogger-hater extraordinaire, for the team’s website about preseason usage.
He made it abundantly clear that ‘fair’ is not a word that enters his vocabulary when making playing time decisions at this time of year. He plays the players that he believes he needs to see in the context in which he needed to see them.
The Steelers had a lot more knowledge of Jones going into this preseason than they knew of Dobbs and Rudolph, who combined played over 200 snaps, nearly time times the workload of the veteran. They are really stepping out of their character and comfort zone in making this move, in favor of moving ahead into the future at the quarterback position.