He may not be Ben Roethlisberger, but Todd Haley trusts Landry Jones all the same. At least, that’s the impression you would get based on the words the Steelers offensive coordinator had for his backup quarterback.
According to Jeremy Fowler for ESPN.com, Haley had some very simple and direct advice for Jones, who is making his first start of 2016 against the vaunted Patriots on Sunday: “Let it rip.” Not exactly the sentiments of a coach who just wants his quarterback to manage the game.
It’s probably good advice too, to an extent anyway. Haley certainly doesn’t want Jones playing tight and nervous. Sure, this isn’t the first time the fourth-year signal-caller has been called upon to fill Roethlisberger’s shoes, but neither of his first two NFL starts were against Tom Brady, either.
And when Antonio Brown is in your receiving corps, you certainly don’t want the quarterback hesitating to pull the trigger on throws in the four-time Pro Bowler’s direction.
Of course, what Haley tells Jones and the game plan the coaching staff devises could be somewhat different. Just because the quarterback is supposed to “let it rip” doesn’t mean the Steelers will ask Jones to air it out all day. With Le’Veon Bell in the backfield, it would make sense to run the ball as much as possible.
Until the score dictates otherwise at least. The way the Steelers defense has played through six games this season, Haley would be wise to anticipate a high-scoring game on Sunday. If that’s the case, again, Jones better have the confidence to make all of the throws.
Fortunately for the Steelers, confidence didn’t appear to be an area where Jones was lacking in his previous two starts. Unfortunately, confidence and the faith of the coaching staff alone won’t result in a victory over the Patriots.