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Mailbag: Readers weigh in on Sooner QBs; Should Blake Bell replace Landry Jones?

by Jason Kersey Published: September 27, 2012
OU quarterback Landry Jones struggled against Kansas State, but shouldn't be replaced as the starter. PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN
OU quarterback Landry Jones struggled against Kansas State, but shouldn't be replaced as the starter. PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN
NORMAN — Landry Jones’ culpability in Oklahoma’s 24-19 loss to Kansas State last Saturday was the subject of my weekly OU football analysis piece Monday, and response to it was overwhelming, humbling and, at times, interesting.

Of all the e-mails I received regarding this story — in which I identified Jones and his mistakes Saturday as the primary reason for the Sooners’ loss — just one thought I unfairly attacked the Sooner quarterback. That note was a doozy.

I think there was a misconception, though, about the story: I never meant to suggest that benching Jones in favor of Blake Bell was the answer to OU’s problems, or that I thought Bell should come in to allow OU to begin building for the future. I couldn’t disagree more with those who believe that is the answer.

I decided to compile some of the e-mails I received this week regarding Landry Jones and respond to them here in a mailbag-style blog post.

Going forward, I’d like to make a mailbag post a regular Thursday feature on this blog, so keep the e-mails coming. Sometimes I’m bad about responding to every e-mail I get, so hopefully this will help get more of your questions/comments/concerns answered.

I’ll start with the someone only identified as “OU Fan.” He/she took exception with my criticism of Landry Jones. The email was pretty long, so I’ll just include the highlights:

OU Fan: “I am amazed at the way you pounced on Landry Jones the other day after OU lost to a good football team?  One would think you are on the Democrat Think Tank for how to destroy your opponents (Saul Alinksy style).   Brutal … non-Christian … pure crap.  You see, Landry can overcome his mistakes, but you can never erase what you wrote.   People learn a lot about people for what they say or write.  They see you in a different light today …

“I will never understand how journalist or sports writers get their highs on destroying others with words that hurt not only your “target” but many associated with Landry (in his case), including his young wife.”

OU Fan: Landry Jones is neither my “opponent” nor is he a “target” of mine. In fact, I think he’s a very nice guy. But my job is to write about OU football as I see it, and I don’t think at all that I’m alone in placing the blame for Saturday’s loss largely on Jones’ shoulders. In fact, Jones has done that himself several times over the last week. He’s a big boy; media criticism is part of the gig when you become quarterback at OU, and Landry knows that. As for my politics … I really don’t know how to respond to that. I’ve got my opinions and won’t be sharing them here, but I will let you in on this: I’m not part of any “think tank” and have only a tenuous knowledge of who Saul Alinsky even is.

David: “Season’s over. Jones has not improved since he was a sophomore. Time to build for the future.”

David: I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, Landry is still making many of the same mistakes he’s made throughout his career, but tossing Blake Bell into the fire three games into the season will only make things worse for OU. That strategy could also be detrimental to Bell’s confidence. If he struggles — and he would be certain to struggle through this brutal schedule — fans will surely begin to question him, and then they’ll wonder if Drew Allen should really be OU’s next quarterback. Changing quarterbacks won’t address the defense’s lack of takeaways, the offensive line’s occassional struggles due to inexperience or the defensive line’s lack of depth. Plus, these new receivers would have to develop timing and rhythm with another quarterback they aren’t used to, which would take time.

John: My reaction to him coming back was the same as with Jason White — move on. He has the unfortunate situation of following Sam.  Even with all the records, he is the height of mediocrity. Bring in Bell, but it will not happen.  Landry needs to support his new wife by watching her basketball games, even if they conflict with his football games.

John: If Jones had left for the NFL and everything else went exactly as it has gone, OU would be in much worse shape today than it is with Landry as its starting quarterback. A bunch of brand new receivers, an inexperienced and thin offensive line and the problems on defense wouldn’t go away if Blake Bell was the starter. And, again, Bell would be subject to immediate scorn and questioning from lots of the Sooner faithful if things didn’t go incredibly well, and that could kill his confidence. Plus, I can almost guarantee you Justin Brown wouldn’t have come to Oklahoma from Penn State. One of his reasons for choosing the Sooners was the chance to play with a quarterback as prolific as Jones. He wouldn’t have brought his receiving — and, perhaps more importantly, punt returning — skills to Norman if Bell was the starter.

(Note on this next one; it was pretty lengthy, so I tried to narrow it down to the main points.)

Coy: Jones is not mediocre because of the loss of Broyles, even if Broyles injury only exposed Jones on a large scale. … The most devastating loss, and the one that completely unmasked Jones was the loss of DeMarco Murray. … He has the mobility of a fire hydrant. He simply cannot run, and defenses know that once he abandons the pocket, he is a confused, dazed, immobile sitting duck. His much talked about mobility over the offseason just proves the old saying, “Every battle plan is perfect unto; confronted by the enemy.” … He cannot read defenses, which is pass/fail criteria in a spread, pass first offense. … OU has the second coming of Cam Newton sitting on the bench instead of starting. … If OU would have switched QBs with K-State, OU would have run K-State out of the stadium, like they did Florida A&M. … Bell has the skill OU needs NOW!! and in the process, he will become better and more proficient at the pass first, spread concept. Why?? because he has time, the arm, the size, the speed, and the fire in his belly that Jones does not have after four years as a starter. … I want to believe Stoops knows this and more. I hope so, because if he does not, then perhaps it may be time for him to go as well. It is looking more and more each year that tenure has caught up with Stoops, and that evidenced by his willingness to accept culture of losing at OU.”

Coy: DeMarco Murray certainly was a big loss and I think that’s a point people often forget; Landry really hasn’t had a proven, consistent game-changer at running back since Murray. Blake Bell is the second coming of Cam Newton? I think it’s a little early to say that, but Bell does have a strong skill set and, if he shows himself to be a consistently strong passer, he could be a great one. But that still doesn’t justify putting him in the lineup over a four-year starter. As for Stoops, I don’t think he’s willing to accept losing at all. I think he’s still got the competitive fire, and that’s why he would never pull Landry Jones as his starting quarterback in favor of an unproven backup, regardless of his talent or upside.

Mark: Thank you.  Someone has finally put in print what I have been telling them.  I told someone at work a couple of weeks ago that if given time Landry Jones can make some tremendous throws.  He can thread a needle at 40 yards.  Thow a pass just out of the reach of a defender and get it to the receiver.  But when he gets a little pressure he falls apart.  He starts making bad decisions and bad throws.  And when a critical third down comes along, you cannot depend on Landry Jones to make a good throw.

Mark: Landry is unquestionably talented, for sure. But he does continue to struggle when put under pressure, and still makes some really head-scratching decisions. I still think he’s gifted and intelligent enough to make some adjustments and still have a strong season, but only time will tell.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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