As the Pittsburgh Steelers fielded its historically anemic offense, the first time in the franchise’s history in which they failed to score 30 points in even a single game during a 16-game schedule, there were no doubt those among us wondering how things might be different if they were able to sign Landry Jones.
By the time Ben Roethlisberger went down and Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges were significantly struggling, Jones had already signed a binding contract with the XFL, assigned to the Dallas Renegades. As a matter of fact, he was the first player that the league signed, and arguably their biggest name. But it’s quite possible he won’t be on the field when it gets underway in about a month.
Jones sustained an injury to his left knee earlier practice on Monday, and he is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks, which puts him in jeopardy of potentially missing the first few games of the year for the Renegades.
Jones was a prolific quarterback at the college level before the Steelers drafted him in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He served as the number three quarterback behind Bruce Gradkowski during his rookie season, as well as the following year. When Gradkowski was injured in 2015, the Steelers signed Mike Vick to be Roethlisberger’s backup.
Vick was injured while Roethlisberger was out toward the middle of the season, however, and Jones came in and played reasonably well. He had a bad showing in relief in the postseason that year, but he would start and hold his own for a few games over the course of the next couple of seasons.
In 2017, the Steelers drafted Joshua Dobbs, and he served as the number three quarterback that year. When they added Rudolph in 2018, it was presumed that Jones would be the backup and Dobbs was going to be the odd man out.
However, the coaching staff determined that Dobbs had done well enough to show them he can handle the backup job, allowing Rudolph to be the number three. Jones was released, and he found it difficult to catch on elsewhere in the league. He pretty much spent the past two years out of football.
Jones has long been maligned far more than he ever deserved, and it’s unfortunate that he has had to try to make his comeback in the XFL, because he is certainly talented enough and with a strong enough resume to hold a job somewhere in the NFL. Now he has to deal with a knee injury while making far less than he would on a 53-man roster.