Landry Jones had a dubious NFL debut a week or so ago, stumbling into Steelers tailback Baron Batch on a handoff, forcing a fumble and falling on it for a safety in Pittsburgh’s exhibition game against the Giants. Landry went on to play decently in that game, completing five of nine passes for 48 yards.
But Monday night, Landry was much better. In the Steelers’ 24-13 loss to the Redskins, Landry was Pittsburgh’s most effective quarterback. He took the Steelers on a 76-yard drive and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Derek Moye. Landry completed a 45-yard deep ball to Markus Wheaton, and the TD pass came on a 4th-and-1 play after the Redskins had stuffed a 3rd-and-1 run.
Landry, a fourth-round pick out of OU, finished 9-of-22 passing, with 111 yards, and perhaps showed for the first time he could be Ben Roethlisberger’s backup. Landry and Bruce Gradkowski have waged a training camp battle for that job.
But can Landry win over Steeler coach Mike Tomlin? Tomlin is sort of a hard-core personality, so it won’t be easy. And Tomlin isn’t cutting Landry any slack. Steeler reporters say that Tomlin was rough on Landry last week in camp, and Tomlin wasn’t softening up any after the game Monday night.
When asked, “Is this the best you have seen Landry Jones so far?”, Tomlin had a curt answer: “I hadn’t seen much of Landry Jones, so that would be a stretch of a statement.”
However, Roethlisberger was more encouraging. “He did a good job, got his first touchdown and completed a lot of good passes,” Big Ben said.
The Steelers’ trepidation with Landry was evident when on his first series, five straight handoffs were called, leading to a punt.
And give Landry credit for this. Through eight quarters this preseason, Pittsburgh has exactly one touchdown. And it’s been thrown by Landry Jones.